Kingston Council (RBK) are urging residents to get tested for HIV after revealing that 44 per cent of recent new cases in the borough were diagnosed late.

National HIV Testing Week falls next week (November 16-22).

It's tied to a national campaign called ‘It starts with me’, which is encouraging people to get tested, treated and protected against HIV.

According to RBK, in Kingston more than two out of every 1000 residents aged 15-59 years are infected with HIV.

That figure is in line with the England rate, but significantly lower than the London rate of 5.6 per 1,000 people.

Between 10-20 Kingston residents are newly infected with HIV every year and the latest data from Public Health England (PHE) reports 44 per cent of all HIV diagnoses in the borough were late.

A late diagnosis means someone has tested positive for HIV after the virus has already started to damage the immune system and they will need to start treatment straight away.

RBK said a range of different testing methods, including a simple, quick and painless finger prick test, are "widely available across the borough".

Iona Lidington, Director of Public Health at RBK, urged residents to get tested for the disease.

"Late diagnosis in Kingston continues to be a concern, and there is still so much that can be done.

"We encourage everyone to get tested. There are many testing options available, which will prevent onward transmission of the infection, protecting ourselves and others.

"If people are diagnosed with HIV, they can access free treatment and support," she said.