The Terrence Higgins Trust, Britain’s largest sexual health charity, says its national HIV telephone helpline service will now operate at reduced hours, following the loss of government funding.

Earlier this year, the government announced it would cease funding for all specialist sexual health helplines, and instead begin the tender process for a new, central public health helpline.

THT Direct will now be open for calls on weekdays between 10.00am and 8.00pm. Outside of those hours it will be closed, including at weekends.

Genevieve Edwards, director of fundraising, said: “No charity is immune from the recession, but Terrence Higgins Trust is committed to providing the best possible service for the thousands of people each year who depend on us for support and advice around HIV and sexual health. THT Direct has an important role to play in this, and we are determined to raise the money to ensure the helpline stays open.”

When the helpline is closed, callers will be directed to the information held on Terrence Higgins Trust’s websites.

According to THT, more than one in 10 gay or bisexual men in London and one in seven on the capital’s ‘gay scene’ are living with HIV.

The figure is one in 20 for the rest of the UK.