Public Health England (PHE) is asking voluntary organisations to apply for funding from a money pot totalling £600,000 to support innovative local HIV prevention projects.

Despite huge strides in the treatment of the disease, HIV remains a public health concern, with an estimated 103,700 people in the UK carrying the virus and as many as 18,100 of unaware that they have been infected.

Certain groups in the population - including gay and bisexual men and Black African communities - are more at risk of contracting the virus; targeted local prevention initiatives can play a key role in helping to reduce the risk of infection.

As such, PHE is looking to support voluntary groups in their fight against the disease with this year's HIV Prevention Fund, which is funded by the allocation from the Department of Health for HIV prevention and sexual health promotion.

Proposals that tackle: diagnosis for both HIV and other sexually transmitted infections; stigma associated with HIV; other risky behaviours that can increase risk of contracting the disease, such as drug and alcohol misuse; and the integration of HIV prevention into wider sexual and reproductive health, are particularly welcome, the agency noted, but also stressed that they must have local authority endorsement to be considered.

"Stopping the spread of HIV remains a priority for the UK government," said Public Health Minister Jane Ellison. "We are already seeing some exciting prospects develop from last year's fund and I am looking forward to seeing more creativity and innovation this time round".