THE UK's longest known HIV survivor has called for more funding to help raise awareness and screen for the virus. 

John Percy, 62, who now lives in Truro, contracted the disease as a result of an assault and was diagnosed with HIV back in 1981, originally being told he had just three years to live. 

However, John has surpassed those predictions and has spent most of his life campaigning for greater HIV awareness and supporting those with the virus. 

John told The Packet: "It's really quite important, more funding is needed from local authorities for HIV testing. It's the first step. There needs to be more support for people living with HIV, newly diagnosed people.

"December 1 is World AIDS Day, and there was nowhere in Cornwall that I could get any red ribbons.

"To me, that is diabolical. Even the HIV clinic didn't have any HIV awareness ribbons. The HIV charity, Kernow Positive Support (KPS), hasn't got enough money to buy them."

John also told The Packet how he's suffered abuse as a result of his diagnosis, both in person and on social media. 

John explained: "When you've got HIV, your whole life collapses and you come up against so many barriers against you, the stigma surrounding HIV, 'don't talk to him, he's got AIDS,' and things like that. There's still that ignorance and still that stigma. 

John's viral status is now undetectable, meaning it doesn't show up in blood tests, and is untransmittable, meaning it can no longer be passed on to other people. 

He continued: "Once you're undetectable, your virus is so low it doesn't show up in your blood tests anymore, though it'll always be in your body. It's not a one day illness, it's a lifetime illness. 

"In Cornwall, we've got a massive problem with people getting sexually transmitted infections, and HIV is one of those STIs. But there's nowhere for these people to go and get any information.

"The government don't seem to do anything for HIV anymore, the only time you hear about HIV on television is on one day a year, and I think there needs to be more awareness about it."

The Packet contacted Cornwall Council but has yet to receive a response. Cornwall Council did, however, recently announce a new goal to have no new HIV cases in Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly by 2030, although it didn't touch upon how it intended to do this. 

For more information visit the Eddystone Trust websiteBrook website, or the national ‘It Starts With Me’ campaign website.