COUNCILS are being urged to throw their support behind a national drive to get people with HIV diagnosed more quickly.

The Halve It campaign in HIV testing aims to cut the number of people diagnosed late or living with undiagnosed HIV by 50% over the coming years.

Brighton and Hove has one of the highest rates of HIV in the country outside of London, with about 1,800 residents believed to be living with the virus.

The campaign is made up of 21 HIV charities, patient groups, clinician groups and industry and has the support of the MPs and councillors from across the UK.

Brighton Kemptown MP Simon Kirby has written to the leaders of the main political groups on both Brighton and Hove City and East Sussex County Councils to urge them to sign up to the campaign’s Council Motion on HIV Testing.

Recent statistics show late diagnosis figures for HIV were at 42% in 2013.

This is significantly down from 54% in previous years. If diagnosed early, and treated correctly, those living with HIV can have an almost normal life expectancy and live healthy, active lives.

The proposed motion would see the councils acknowledge the prevalence of HIV in the area and commit to provide more HIV testing services.

Mr Kirby said: “Through my work as both the MP for Brighton Kemptown, and the vice chairman of the all party parliamentary group for HIV/Aids, I have been a strong and vocal supporter of strengthened HIV testing. The figures clearly show that, whilst the situation is improving, there is still significant work to be done to reduce the proportion of late diagnoses, which have both a huge impact on quality of life, and are also a strain and cost for local services.

“I am willing to work with everybody that wants to in order to make a difference on this important matter. This is not about party politics, but about seeing a tangible difference to the lives of those living with HIV in the area.”