Older people with HIV need more help living with the condition, according to the Royal College of Nursing.
Around a fifth of all people in the UK who are HIV positive are now aged 50 and over, but there is often a lack of training for health care workers and a lack of knowledge among the public, said the RCN on the eve of its annual congress in Liverpool.
Nursing staff will be debating the issue of HIV awareness at the event tomorrow.
Dr Peter Carter, chief executive and general secretary of the RCN said: "Nursing staff are seeing an increasing number of older people with HIV and too often they can see that the system is failing them.
"Many nurses also feel that they could be better used to help older people with HIV by coordinating care and reducing the stress of dealing with multiple conditions."
A change in UK law today means people can legally test themselves for HIV at home - but no home-testing kits have yet been approved for sale in Britain.
Until now it was illegal for people in the UK to do an HIV test at home and read the result themselves.
Those taking the test could take a sample themselves but would have to send it off laboratory testing and receive the result at a later date.
The new law means people can perform a saliva test at home that will quickly give the user a "negative" or a "positive indication" result.
Sexual health charities have said that a home testing kit should be available by the end of the year or early next year.
The next six years will see the culmination of a thirty-year hunt for a vaccine against HIV, according to a British HIV researcher leading the search.
Professor Weber has been working towards the goal of an effective HIV vaccine since 1985. He told doctors and leading HIV clinicians in Liverpool today:
"By the end of this decade I believe we will have reached a defining moment in the history of HIV vaccination research. We will be able to say with confidence if a generation of work has delivered an effective HIV vaccine candidate.
“If not we will know that our current technology is not enough. We will require an as-yet unmade scientific breakthrough.
"We have seen success, albeit with rates of protection which are too low. Perhaps the HIV vaccine research community can learn from our highly successful Olympic athletes. Marginal gains can really add up to success.
"A series of minor improvements in the vaccines we currently have will optimise their potency.”
Charities have used World Aids Day to call for more to be done to encourage people to get tested for HIV.
It comes as the number of those living with the virus in the UK reaches 100,000, and the reason the virus is spreading faster than it ever has before is because of the the amount of people, estimated at around 20,000, who are unaware of their infections.
Joanna Simpson reports.
The number of people diagnosed with HIV in the UK has reached a record high, passing 100,000 for the first time, the Terrence Higgins Trust said.
Though the number is "worryingly high" according to Paul Ward from the Terrence Higgins Trust, it is better to have people diagnosed and getting the world class treatment available in the UK, than continuing unaware of their infection.
HIV infection in the UK continues to pose a major health threat to thousands of people, and for the first time, the number of people living with the infection has hit 100,000.
The Terrence Higgins Trust has welcomed the changes announced by the Department of Health today that will enable those living with HIV to carry out certain procedures in patients.
Sir Nick Partridge, chief executive at Terrence Higgins Trust said:
Advances in medication have transformed what it means to live with HIV, and it’s great to see regulations starting to catch up. People diagnosed in good time can have full, healthy lives, and effective treatment dramatically reduces the risk of the virus being passed on. So long as the right safeguards are in place, there is now no reason why a dentist or a midwife with HIV should be barred from treating patients, or why people who would prefer to test at home should be denied that chance.
Legislation plays a vital role in shaping attitudes. We hope these changes continue to improve public understanding of HIV and support for those living with the virus.
Approximately 22,600 people in the UK do not know they have the HIV virus according to the Health Protection Agency.
The Government's Chief Medical Officer hopes to reduce this number by lifting the ban on a home HIV test.
Dame Sally Davies denied this was a cost-saving move and wanted to encourage more people to get tested for the disease.
She said: "This is about allowing people who don't want to go to a clinic unless they might have it, checking themselves."
British Dental Association scientific adviser Prof Damien Walmsley has welcomed plans to lift a ban on NHS workers with HIV - including dentists - carrying out certain treatments on patients.
He said the new policy brought the UK in line with many other countries.
"Dentists in the UK comply with rigorous infection control procedures to protect both patients and the dental team against the risk of transmission of blood-borne infections," he added.
Deborah Jack, chief executive of the National Aids Trust has hailed the new policy for NHS workers with HIV for being "based on up-to-date scientific evidence and not on fear, stigma or outdated information".
Allowing healthcare workers living with HIV to undertake exposure-prone procedures corrects the current guidance which offers no more protection for the general public but keeps qualified and skilled people from working in the career they had spent many years training for.