A politician in North Carolina has said that HIV treatment should not be funded by the taxpayer for people who live “perverted lifestyles”.

Republican representative Larry Brown made his remarks in an email to a newspaper.

According to the Winston-Salem Journal, Mr Brown wrote: “I’m not opposed to helping a child born with HIV or something, but I don’t condone spending taxpayers’ money to help people living in perverted lifestyles.”

He said that “perverted lifestyles” meant people who had contracted the disease through sexual behaviour or drug use.

Mr Brown has been criticised for his choice of words before, having called openly gay legislators “fruitloops” last year.

In the email, he also voiced his support for a constitutional amendment limiting marriage to heterosexuals.

The Human Rights Campaign attacked his remarks, saying: “Rep Brown’s ill-informed comments are not only hateful rhetoric, but they are also extremely dangerous.

“Hysterical, judgmental and inaccurate statements like Brown’s create an environment that prevents many from getting tested and seeking treatment, thereby furthering the spread of HIV and AIDS.”

Wanda Moss, an HIV-positive Winston-Salem woman told the newspaper that Mr Brown was “speaking out of fear.”

“I am not a perverted person,” she said. “There is a misconception, and part of that lingers from fear of homosexuality.

“In the beginning stages of HIV, that was the predominant way of spreading, but as men with men and women started infecting women, it started spreading in a different manner – in what the woman may have thought was an exclusive relationship. Any human being who is engaging in any sexual activity is at risk.”