The spread of HIV could be halted in the UK within a generation, according to a new campaign funded by the Department of Health.
The campaign, created by the Terrence Higgins Trust, is called ‘It Starts With Me, and will run until spring 2015.
It urges people in HIV high-risk groups to get tested for the infection at least once every 12 months, and more frequently if they experience symptoms or have unprotected sex.
It is thought that one person in four does not know they are living with HIV.
90,000 people live with HIV in the UK, with gay and bisexual men and people in African communities making up three-quarters of these cases.
According to the Trust, modern drug treatments reduce the level of virus in the body to an undetectable level, meaning someone with HIV who has tested and is on treatment is far less likely to pass the virus on than someone who remains undiagnosed.
Therefore, experts say focused screening and information for high-risk groups could end the epidemic.
"While a cure or vaccine for HIV remains stubbornly out of reach, what many people don’t realise is that medical advances mean it is now within our grasp to stop the virus in its tracks," Sir Nick Partridge, chief executive at the Terrence Higgins Trust told the BBC.
He added that by getting people tested and on treatment, the country should see infection rates dramatically fall.
The campaign is particularly targeting African communities, as recent figures revealed that the proportion of Africans acquiring HIV within the UK, as opposed to overseas, is now higher than ever.
In a press statement, Terrence Higgins Trust health promotion specialist for African communities Taku Mukiwa said; "We all have responsibility to keep ourselves and our partners safe, so I would encourage Africans to sign up to the campaign today and prove that the battle to stop the spread of HIV will ultimately be won by each and every one of us."
This year there have been significant developments in the fight against HIV.
In March researchers in France said that early and aggressive treatment with HIV drugs can functionally cure about one in ten infected.
In the same month, US Doctors cured a baby girl of HIV using a cocktail of readily available anti-viral drugs, while a month later, US scientists tracked and recorded the early response of one person’s immune system to the HIV virus for the first time ever, which they believed could eventually lead to a vaccine.
Image: Scanning electron micrograph of HIV-1 budding (in green) from cultured lymphocyte. Photo: Courtesy of C Goldsmith.