For the first time ever more than half of all new HIV cases in Brighton and Hove are being attributed to heterosexual men.

In 2011, almost 2,000 people in the city became infected with the virus compared to 758 in 2001.

Although gay and bisexual men in the city remain disproportionally affected by the virus, figures show 70% of new cases were caught through heterosexual sex with 30% involving mostly men aged over 50.

Brighton & Hove has the highest rate of HIV infection outside of London.

Gay and bisexual men remain at greatest risk of acquiring the virus, but the UK’s largest sexual health charity, the Terrence Higgins Trust, says too many straight men in their fifties wrongly assume that it won’t affect them too.

Meanwhile, John Percy, who was diagnosed with HIV in 1981, told the Argus newspaper that Brighton’s gay scene is not always welcoming to those who are HIV positive.

“I would actually say stigma against people with HIV is increasing,” Mr Percy said.

“Brighton is terrible for it – that’s why I had to leave. I had so much grief from other gay men.

“What many people don’t realise is the stigma of sufferers within the gay community.”