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Unique portraits of people who are living with HIV

People in their fifties and older are increasingly being diagnosed with HIV.

It can be caught by anyone - regardless of their gender, race or sexuality. And that's very much the message of a new photographic exhibition which is bringing together people who're HIV positive - from all walks of life.

Charlotte Wilkins has been speaking to Photographer Edo Zollo; David Fray and Mandy Webb who are both living with HIV; and Simon Dowe from the Sussex Beacon.

The Sussex Beacon celebrates turning 21

Video. A unique centre in Sussex helping those affected by HIV is celebrating its 21st anniversary. The Sussex Beacon offers both in-patient treatment and respite care. When it opened, deaths from AIDS were at their peak.

Today, improved drug treatments mean HIV sufferers can survive the condition for many years. But they can still experience stigma and discrimination. Malcolm Shaw reports.

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'Complacency' blamed for rise in HIV

Shocking figures have revealed just how many people in the south are living with HIV. While new cases nationally have fallen slightly, here, in some areas, they've hit record levels - with a dramatic rise in the number of hetrosexual people contracting it.

There are nearly 8,000 people with HIV in our region. Brighton and Hove is a hot spot and has the highest rate of HIV outside of London.

In the last ten years there has been a 150% increase in the number of people accessing treatment for HIV in the south. The message from experts is get tested - and that HIV is not a death sentence.

This from Charlotte Wilkins who speaks to HIV patient John Cook, Paula Evenden, from The Sussex Beacon and Ross Boseley from The Terence Higgins Trust.

Almost 8,000 people across the South East living with HIV

The number of people living with HIV has reached a record high Credit: AP Photo/Luis Romero

The number of people living with HIV in the South East has reached an estimated 7,712, according to figures released by the Health Protection Agency (HPA).

3,336 people are accessing HIV treatment - this is a 92% increase since 2002 when there were 1,156 cases.

Of these cases, 30% (1,099 cases) are thought to have acquired their infection from men who have sex with men, whilst 62% (2,231 cases) of cases are likely to have acquired their infection from heterosexual activity.

Professor Jackie Cassell, from the South East HPA said: "These figures are a reminder how vital safe sex programmes remain. We must continue to promote HIV testing and condom use, in order to tackle the high rates of transmission, late diagnosis and undiagnosed HIV still seen in the UK."

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