A Surbiton man given just two weeks to live after an HIV diagnosis is urging others to get tested early.

Roland Chesters, who lives in Surbiton, had symptoms for over two years but doctors did not know was wrong with him.

His efforts to raise awareness come in the wake of the government’s annual report on HIV/AIDS in the UK, which has found nearly half of those diagnosed are still at the late stage of infection.

Mr Chesters, 59, said: "I had been very poorly for a long time. I had suffered loss of movement in my arms and legs and the ability to speak, dizzy spells, tiredness, under-performance at work and confusion.

"I thought I was going mad because I’d seen numerous oncologists, cardiologists, psychologists and a neurologist, but they didn’t know what was wrong with me.

"I’m lucky to still be alive. But had I been tested earlier, I could have avoided the long term effects on my brain and motor skills."

Roland and his partner of 22 years, Richard, had been planning to go on a two week holiday days after the test. But doctors warned if they did Roland would be "coming back in a box".

The HIV virus attacks CD4 cells, which are white blood cells that protect your body from infection.

Treatment was previously recommended to start once they dropped to 350. An AIDS diagnosis is at below 200. Below 100, a person is not expected to recover.

Mr Chester's count was at 62.

Following the HIV diagnosis (in 2006), Mr Chesters was later diagnosed with dyspraxia, a coordination disorder, as a direct consequence of the encephalopathy or brain damage associated with HIV.

He also suffered from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) following news.

Nevertheless, effective treatment saw Mr Chesters recover.

HIV is treated with antiretroviral medication, which works by stopping the virus replicating in the body.

He has since become a campaigner for disability rights, heading Luminate, an NGO which offers support on disability and diversity in the workplace.

Mr Chesters also wrote a book — Ripples: From the Edge of Life — discussing his experiences, and continues to work as a speaker for the Terrence Higgins Trust ‘Positive Voices’ to speak at schools, colleges and workplaces about his life.

Mr Chesters said: "People diagnosed and treated early can enjoy a long and healthy life and do not pass on the infection to others.

"Tests are carried out discreetly and there’s even the option to order a home testing kit online."

In 2017 around 100,000 people in the UK received specialist HIV care.

Public Health England, which is part of the Department of Health, reported 7,800 people are unaware of their infection and 43 per cent of those diagnosed are at the late stage of the infection.

For more information go to www.nhs.uk/conditions/hiv-and-aids/

Mr Chester's book is available at https://www.amazon.co.uk/Ripples-Edge-Life-Roland-Chesters-ebook/dp/B07C4ZTXWT and his ongoing outreach work can be read about at https://luminate.uk.com/