Fast Track C&V December 2021 Update – Bulletin #6

Dear Friends and Allies,
 
This is a slightly early update to fit with the timing of our Leadership Group who supervise our activities – and there’s a lot of news.
 
Firstly, right now we’re in the middle of Wales HIV Testing Week and it’s our busiest ever. Please feel free to retweet, share and promote any of our social posts including a huge array of promotional messages from TV and movie celebrities such as Billie Piper, Dr Rhys Jones and several regenerated Doctor Whos – and the iconic Gareth Thomas.
 
Promotional materials are available to share and re-use, and you can still put your own promotional logo on them here. We’ve been mentioned in Westminster, several MSs have taken HIV tests and we’ve done interviews with all the main TV channels. We’re appearing on S4C and Sky on December 1st and have already been on the BBC; ITV has a piece too this week. We can monitor how many people are using our link to order tests and will report further on that in an evaluation once Testing Week is over.
 
We have a Reception in the Senedd on December 1st with the Ministers, Eluned Morgan MS and Hannah Blythyn MS, but unfortunately, new Covid regulations there forced us to reduce our guest list by half. We will be filming the speeches for the website. There is also a community event in Cardiff University in Park Place at 8.15 pm the same night. Cardiff Libraries and Hubs have been very supportive and hosted a set of talks on Thursday 25th November about recent HIV research findings (all of which you can read about).
 
The GP pilot in South Cardiff was so successful that we have obtained funding from Gilead Sciences for a year to extend it across Cardiff & Vale. Clinicians in Betsi Cadwalladr have also expressed an interest in rolling it out there too. This will include a part-time post and we would be grateful for any boost to the job advertisement when it is public; currently, we are awaiting the formal contract. The evaluation of the pilot by Cardiff University is now available on our website. Dr Cousins’ paper on the pilot was one of only three topics given an oral presentation at the recent Welsh Primary Care conference. We also understand that the work has been discussed in other European cities for replication there.
 
You may have seen the mural which is up on James Street in Butetown promoting HIV testing. This is featured in S4C’s history of HIV in Wales and was created for them and us by Unify using local people with HIV (thank you Mercy and Marlon, and ViiV Healthcare for the funding). The Welsh National Opera are also featuring it in promotion for their song for World AIDS Day and part of their schools work, which we have been supporting.
 
We continue to work with the Welsh Government on their forthcoming HIV Action Plan and contribute to their PrEP Working Party. The group now includes two “expert patients” but the work has highlighted the almost complete lack of community inclusion in HIV work in Wales; we believe we are literally the only country in Europe without a country-based HIV-focussed charity or NGO (FTC being a collaborative venture and not a charity in its own right). This is unacceptable and thankfully, while we construct the Action Plan with as much community inclusion as we can, we are also glad to announce a further successful funding application to ViiV Healthcare for a two-year project to establish an HIV Advocacy Network across Wales including further Fast Track Cities/Regions and Wales-based peer-to-peer support for people with HIV. There will again be a part-time post attached to this.
 
Leaflets about our work and priorities are now available and you can order them from us. We’d also like to highlight recent sexual health leaflets from Terrence Higgins Trust written by and for trans people which were very popular alongside our talk at the recent Big Lunch organised by Trans Aid Cymru.
 
Our website has several new features on it including research reports on public perceptions of current national sexual health services and other topics mentioned in this update; also new graphs illustrating testing trends recently.

The Fast Track Cardiff & Vale team

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