A MAN from Redditch has spoken about living with HIV in the wake of a survey which found over half of millennials would shun a friend if they learned they had the virus.

Tom Hayes, 34, was diagnosed with HIV eight years ago after his boyfriend of the time cheated on him.

He said he still gets offensive messages through social media.

People with HIV still face stigma on a daily basis," he said.

"There’s still a lack of education and until I was diagnosed, I’d never heard of HIV.”

His comments come in the wake of research which found as many as 22 per cent of people aged 24 to 34 would no longer be friends with someone with HIV – and a further 32 per cent would distance themselves.

And 40 per cent of those questioned thought people got HIV through irresponsible behaviour or a promiscuous sex life.

Roland Chesters, from disability development consultancy Luminate, commissioned a survey of over 2,000 people in the UK to gauge current perceptions around the disease.

The report also revealed this age group was also least worried about catching HIV - and campaigners fear a lack of awareness is putting young people at risk of infection.

Tom is engaged to be married to his partner, Jimmy Isaacs, and the couple regularly share their experiences on social media to tackle the stigma surrounding the condition.

Tom, an ambassador for the charity Saving Lives, said life goes on with HIV.

“I’m happy, I’m undetectable and uninfectious,” he said.

Jimmy said: “I had been living in ignorance of HIV until a friend was diagnosed. Some of his friends vanished overnight when they found out he had HIV because they thought it was somehow his fault.

“A lot of people are scared to disclose their status because they fear being cut off from friends.

“When I learned I had HIV I was told ‘once you tell someone, you can’t un-tell them’. But I knew almost immediately that I wanted something good to come from it and to dispel the stigma.”

Jimmy added: “When I was growing up, we weren’t taught about the risks of catching HIV.

“The last national campaign was around 30 years ago and there has been no public information follow-up since then.

“I’ve basically educated myself but wish I’d have known about it earlier.”

The couple are encouraging people to get tested regularly as early diagnosis improves the odds of living a long and healthy life and stopping the infection being passed on.