The Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, is backing a major HIV testing campaign in the run up to World AIDS Day on 1 December 2012.

HIV and sexual health charity Terrence Higgins Trust - which marks its 30th anniversary with a reception at City Hall today, 19 November – has launched England’s first ever National HIV Testing Week. The week runs from 23-30 November and aims to increase testing among the most at risk populations.

Gay men and Africans remain the groups most at risk of HIV in the UK, with around 1 in 20 people from both groups infected with the virus. That number rises to one in seven among men on the London gay scene. A quarter of people with HIV in the UK remain untested and unaware they have the virus.

The Mayor said, ‘London is home to almost half of all people living with HIV in the UK, but a quarter of them are unaware they carry the virus. It is vital that people who might be at risk get tested, not only to reduce the risk of transmission to others, but to ensure they get the life-saving treatments that are available.’

Terrence Higgins Trust, which is co-ordinating National HIV Testing Week as part of HIV Prevention England’s Think HIV campaign, is marking 30 years at the forefront of campaigning on HIV and sexual health with a reception at City Hall. In attendance will be Annie Lennox, the Deputy Mayor of London, and other community activists, including people living with HIV.

Annie Lennox, The Mayor’s HIV Ambassador, said, ‘Stigma, fear and complacency are the greatest obstacles to people seeking out their HIV status. This is why Terrence Higgins Trust and the Mayor of London have taken this initiative to encourage those most at risk to take the HIV test.  Knowing your status can literally be a life saving action.’

The Deputy Mayor for London, Victoria Borwick, commented, ‘Terrence Higgins Trust continues to play a key role in educating people so they can protect themselves against HIV, as well as providing advice and support to people living with and affected by HIV. I hope this year’s campaign for World AIDS Day will encourage anyone with concerns to seek out advice and get tested.’