HIV charity Terrence Higgins Trust is to open an online chatroom for gay men to discuss their experiences of HIV, sex and condoms.

The charity hopes that discussions on the forum can be used as a focus group to inform its future safe sex campaigns and estimates that 1,500 men will sign up.

It will be open between mid-April and mid-May and THT says the information gathered will be kept confidential.

The £35,000 campaign has been funded by the Department of Health and will be launched with adverts online, in print and on the London Underground.

Alan Wardle, head of health promotion at the charity, said: “While we’ve always ensured gay men are involved in our campaigns, this is the first time we’ve sparked a conversation with such large numbers. It’s also the first time we’ve used social media to listen.

“For almost 30 years we’ve talked to men from all walks of life, but we are now asking gay men to join in on the conversation, to talk to each other about what matters to them, so we can develop campaigns that will really have an impact on HIV.

“It’s vital to our work that we talk to gay men on their terms, and we are encouraging them to log on and tell us exactly what they think.”

National statistics suggest that one in ten gay men in London and one in eight in Brighton are living with HIV/AIDS.