Health bosses are urging residents to get tested for HIV as part of a campaign.

East Sussex County Council’s health chiefs are calling on people to test for the virus during National HIV Testing Week, which runs from today Monday, February 5.

HIV testing is quick, confidential and free. Most people contract HIV from someone who doesn’t know they have it and testing is the only way for people to learn their HIV status.

Darrell Gale, director of public health for East Sussex, said: “Finding out if you have HIV means you can start lifesaving treatment, stay healthy and avoid passing the virus onto others.

“The sooner you start treatment, the less likely you are to become seriously ill. People who are diagnosed early and get treatment can expect to live a normal lifespan.

“Once you’re on treatment and your viral load remains undetectable, then you can’t pass it on to others.”

HIV can affect anyone regardless of sexual orientation, race, ethnicity, gender, age, or where they live.

There were 17 new HIV diagnoses among East Sussex residents in 2021.

Mr Gale continued: “Late diagnosis correlates to poorer long-term health outcomes and can be prevented by having a test if you have ever had unprotected sex.

“Anyone diagnosed with HIV in the UK can access free treatment and support.”