The chief executive of the National AIDS Trust has praised Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg’s call for a new cross-party consensus on tackling HIV within the gay community.

In an exclusive interview with PinkNews.co.uk, the Liberal Democrat leader said the time had come for the UK’s political leaders to redouble their efforts in tackling the HIV epidemic among gay and bisexual men.

When asked if greater cross-party leadership on HIV was needed, in the same way the Conservatives, Labour and the Liberal Democrats had all worked together to legalise equal marriage in England and Wales, Mr Clegg said HIV required a new “cross-party commitment”.

“I certainly think that this is something which should not in any way be disfigured by party politics,” he said to PinkNews.co.uk.

Mr Clegg also expressed his frustration at the failure of the Cabinet to agree on the need to “improve” and “modernise” sex education guidance.

Last Thursday, the Department for Education (DfE) ruled out changing the original guidance from 2000, but for the first time disclosed that it was working on “new advice produced by experts groups”.

Responding to Mr Clegg’s comments, NAT Chief Executive Deborah Jack told PinkNews.co.uk: “Nick Clegg’s comments shows he understands that HIV is not simply a sexual health issue for gay men but is a lifelong, stigmatised condition. NAT hopes he will now spread this message with the rest of the coalition and lead the way in finally achieving a developing a much needed cross-government HIV strategy in the UK; addressing not only education but also employment, education, discrimination, welfare and social support, as well as NHS services.”

Figures released in November by Public Health England showed HIV infections among gay and bisexual men at a record high.

3,250 gay and bisexual men were diagnosed with HIV in 2012, the highest annual figure since the start of the epidemic.