London Mayor Boris Johnson is backing a major HIV testing campaign in the run up to World AIDS Day on 1 December.

HIV and sexual health charity Terrence Higgins Trust, which is marking its 30th anniversary with a reception at City Hall on Monday afternoon (19 November), has launched England’s first ever National HIV Testing Week.

It runs from 23-30 November and aims to increase testing among the most at risk populations, gay men and Africans in particular.

Mr Johnson said: “London is home to almost half of all people living with HIV in the UK, but a quarter of them are unaware they carry the virus.

“It is vital that people who might be at risk get tested, not only to reduce the risk of transmission to others, but to ensure they get the life-saving treatments that are available.’

The mayor’s HIV Ambassador Annie Lennox, who is attending Monday’s event, said:

“Stigma, fear and complacency are the greatest obstacles to people seeking out their HIV status. This is why Terrence Higgins Trust and the Mayor of London have taken this initiative to encourage those most at risk to take the HIV test. Knowing your status can literally be a life saving action.”

Sir Nick Partridge, the charity’s chief executive, said: “Terrence Higgins Trust was founded by a handful of people in a flat in London 30 years ago. Today we provide services for thousands of people every year and London remains at the centre of the HIV epidemic in the UK.

“We are delighted that the mayor and his ambassador are backing our campaign to encourage more Londoners to get tested and to drive down rates of HIV in the capital. We are determined to work together with the Mayor’s Office and local councils, to strengthen the capital’s response to HIV.”