BROMLEY has one of the highest rates of HIV in the country, with the prevalence of the virus more than doubling in the last 10 years.

This is according to the National AIDS Trust (NAT), which says one in 340 people living in the borough are HIV positive.

This compares to one in 850 in 2002, and a national average of one in 650.

Phil Glanville, NAT Policy and Parliamentary Officer, said: "It is only recently that Bromley has gone from low to high prevalence.

"I think it is probably due to people moving to Bromley from very high prevalence areas - for example Lewisham, Lambeth, which has one of the highest prevalences in the country, and Southwark."

The National AIDS Trust added that 40 percent of people living with HIV in Bromley are also diagnosed late.

This can mean worse health outcomes, decreased life expectancy and greater chance of passing the virus on.

Bromley Council will be allocated £12,601,000 by the government to spend on public health for the first time in April (a Primary Care Trust was previously responsible), and NAT is calling for it to prioritise sexual health.

NAT Chief executive Deborah Jack said: "We need strong commitment to HIV from Bromley’s local councillors to ensure HIV prevention and testing continue to receive the necessary funding.

"Disinvestment in HIV prevention and testing would seriously harm public health, especially in an area like Bromley which has a high rate of HIV."

A Council spokeswoman said: "The Council is committed to build on existing work already taking place to improve sexual health and reduce late diagnosis of HIV in the local community.

"In advance of the transfer of the responsibility of sexual health, in particular HIV diagnosis and prevention, we have been working closely with public health colleagues to identify local needs."

People can contact a HIV hotline on 01689 866647 for further information about HIV, its diagnosis and treatment.