Fewer than 40% of people in Britain know that those on effective treatment for HIV cannot pass the virus on to partners, a survey suggests.
The data from YouGov polling, released by the Terrence Higgins Trust, found that just 30% of people surveyed said they are comfortable dating someone with HIV.
The polling of 2,004 people also found that just 37% would be comfortable kissing someone with HIV.
The data was released to mark 40 years since Terrence Higgins’ death from Aids.
He became the UK’s first named person to die of an Aids-related illness on July 4 1982.
The Terrence Higgins Trust said progress in HIV medication means people can live a long, healthy life with HIV and that 97% of those diagnosed and on treatment in the UK are virally suppressed and cannot pass on HIV.
But the survey found that just 38% of people know that people with HIV and on effective treatment cannot pass the virus on to partners, with older people far less likely to believe how much progress has been made.
The poll found that 48% remember the Government’s Aids awareness advert from 1987, with that rising to three quarters (76%) in 45-54 year olds and 70% in those aged 55 and over.
The trust said the advert, which featured the words “it’s a deadly disease with no known cure” against a backdrop of falling tombstones, continues to cast a damaging shadow over the public’s perception of HIV.
Ian Green, chief executive at the Terrence Higgins Trust, said: “The adverts end by saying ‘don’t die of ignorance’, but now we’re fighting a different kind of ignorance – an ignorance to all the incredible progress that’s been made.
“The previously life-saving information in that advert is now completely out of date.
“We’re very proud of Terry Higgins and all we’ve achieved in his name, but the best way to celebrate 40 years since his untimely death is to engage as many people as possible in all the progress that’s been made since – including that someone living with HIV and on effective treatment can’t pass the virus on to their partners.”
Mr Green added: “This is an important moment to remember Terry and celebrate all that’s been achieved in the last four decades.
“But it’s horrifying to see the stigma that still remains all these years on.
“I’ve been living with HIV for over 25 years and there’s no risk in hugging or kissing me.
“I know that the treatment I take means I can’t pass on HIV and my husband knows that too.
“I just wish the general public was more up to date on how much HIV has changed since the 1980s.”