Terrence Higgins Trust, the HIV charity, is launching a new campaign to encourage gay men to get tested regularly for the virus.

The Health Protection Agency estimates that, in the UK, up to 10,000 gay men have HIV without knowing, with one in four men infected with the virus unaware of their HIV status.

However, it is thought that around a third of gay men in England have never taken an HIV test, with the figure even higher in Scotland and Wales.

The campaign, titled ‘THIVK – Test – Take Control’, is designed to raise awareness of new, fasting testing methods and why it is important to be diagnosed as soon as possible.

Marc Thompson, deputy head of health promotion at THT, said: “Recent medical advances mean HIV treatments are now more effective, easier to take and have fewer side effects. Doctors are now confident people with HIV will live long and healthy lives if diagnosed soon enough. However, if gay men leave it too late to get tested, they’re setting themselves up for serious health problems and the risk of early death.

“It’s now recommended that gay men test at least once a year, or after any unprotected sex. With the new rapid HIV tests available in testing centres such as THT ‘Fastest’, it’s never been easier to test. Part of the reason gay men don’t test as often as they should may be that they under-estimate the importance of being aware of your HIV status. We hope that, through the new campaign, we can encourage men to take control and make testing for HIV a regular part of their lives.”

For more information, visit www.thinkHIV.co.uk