England’s first National HIV Testing Week will take place next month as part of a strategy designed to tackle high rates of HIV infection among gay and bisexual men.

The Terrence Higgins Trust (THT), the UK’s largest HIV and sexual health charity, has announced that it will be coordinating a national HIV testing initiative from 23 – 30 November.

The charity’s Deputy Chief Executive Paul Ward said:

“National HIV Testing Week gives us a great opportunity to remind men of the importance of regular testing. Terrence Higgins Trust recommends that sexually active gay and bi men test for HIV at least once a year, and more regularly if they have a high number of partners”.

However, the charity said that at present less than a quarter of men take an annual test.

Mr Ward added: “If the gay community can drive that figure upwards by testing more often, we will see a reduction in undiagnosed HIV, which in turn will begin to put the brakes on the spread of infection.

“We believe it is within our grasp to halt the spread of HIV, but solving this lies just as much with the gay community as it does with the government,” Mr Ward said.

During last year’s World AIDS Day, an HIV testing session at London’s G-A-Y bar on Old Compton Street broke a Guinness World Record for the number of HIV tests undertaken in the space of 8 hours.