BRIGHTON and Hove is bidding to become the first city in the UK to be awarded “fast track” HIV status.

The move comes at new figures show there are 2,824 people diagnosed with the virus in Sussex, including 1,544 in the city.

The city has one of the highest rates of infections in the country outside of London.

Fast track status is awarded by the UN and to achieve it, at least 90 per cent of people with HIV in Brighton and Hove need to have been diagnosed and on antiretroviral therapy.

Also 90 per cent of people having treatment must have the virus repressed by 2020.

At the moment it is believed about 83 per cent of HIV positive people in Brighton and Hove are aware they are carrying the virus.

Brighton-based HIV charity The Martin Fisher Foundation has been working closely with Brighton and Hove City Council on the Fast Track project.

Chairman Adrian Brown said: ”Achieving United Nations Fast Track City status will re-energise the community in Brighton and Hove in the fight to combat HIV/Aids.”

A city council spokesman said: “Fast Track Cities is an exciting international public health initiative to combat HIV.

"Brighton and Hove City Council has become the first in the UK to sign up and welcomes the support of the Martin Fisher Foundation in the achievement of its aims to eradicate HIV as a public health threat.”

The Martin Fisher Foundation's vision is to move towards no HIV stigma, no new HIV infections and no deaths from HIV in Brighton and Hove by 2025.

Brighton charity the Sussex Beacon, provides support to people with HIV/Aids, including specialist hospice care.

Chief executive Simon Dowe said: “ To effectively tackle HIV locally we need to encourage more people in Sussex to get tested.

“Routine testing in high prevalence areas would be a great approach and may identify people who might otherwise ‘fall through the net’ and end up being diagnosed very late.

“In the meantime, if you think you might have been at risk please consider taking a test as soon as possible. Early detection and treatment means people can live long, healthy lives with HIV, but the first step is taking that test.

“There’s support available for anyone testing positive, so you won’t be facing it alone.”