John Amaechi, the openly gay former basketball player, is supporting a new HIV programme aimed at African communities in the UK.

The 40-year-old, who has Nigerian heritage, will launch the three-year Terrence Higgins Trust programme tomorrow (Friday).

The programme will see 15 volunteers each year taking a two-month training course on HIV and mentoring skills.

They will then hold training workshops in the community on HIV treatment, prevention and stigma.

Barclays gave the programme a £141,000 donation and staff will help trainees with skills such as marketing and basic accountancy.

Amaechi, who now works as a psychologist and political activist, said: “I’m proud to be endorsing such an innovative community focused project which will make a tangible difference through the powerful medium of peer to peer support.

“HIV is now a manageable condition but people are still dying needlessly because of a lack of education about the virus and social stigma which contributes to fears about HIV testing in African communities.

“As someone with Nigerian roots I know just how complex cultural beliefs are about sexual health and how important it is that this group has specialist support to counter prejudices and equip people with the information and tools they need to look after their health and the health of their families.”

The former NBA star came out in 2007 in his book The Man in the Middle.