Dear friends and allies,
We said in the last bulletin that there was a lot of news – and this time’s no different.
The big news is that both of our grant applications for new projects were successful and we have appointed a worker to manage Texting For Testing (T4T) who will be starting shortly. We are currently advertising for a Community Organiser to manage Wales HIV Advocacy Matters (WHAM) and the deadline for applications is March 27th. More information and a link to the application form can be found on the Jobs page of our website. We would really appreciate it if you could share our job opportunity through your networks and social media channels: our recent ad is available here.
We hope to start work very soon on both: “Texting For Testing” is the one-year Cardiff & Vale extension of our GP pilot whereby GPs text adult patients to recommend a free HIV test, giving them a link to order one and “Wales HIV Advocacy Matters” is the two-year project to create an HIV advocacy alliance across Wales. If you are interested in either of these, there is more information on the website and if you feel you can help with them we’d be glad to hear from you.
Wales HIV Testing Week was our busiest ever. Thank you to all of you who retweeted, shared and promoted any of our social posts. Gareth Thomas was, unsurprisingly, the most popular but using a range of celebrities certainly increased our reach. A paper on the campaign has been accepted for a poster presentation at the British HIV Association conference in Manchester in April and will be presented by Alessandro Ceccarelli, our volunteer Comms Manager (and while we’re here, congratulations to Alessandro on his recent engagement to Graham Henry).
The BHIVA conference will feature Alessandro and another of our Steering Group, Dr David Gillespie, who have poster presentations on Testing Week and on Stigma and PrEP use among MSM (gay men) in Wales. Lisa Power is part of a Steering Group organising a pre-conference meeting for all-UK Fast Track Cities and Drs Jonathan Underwood and Jane Nicholls will also be joining them at the conference.
Our Reception in the Senedd for World AIDS Day on December 1st went well and some of the speeches are now up on our website and on our YouTube channel. We recommend, if you haven’t already seen it, our Chair Gian Molinu’s speech about stigma and HIV in Wales. Thank you to everyone who helped organise the event from the Senedd side – and if you’d like a Fast Track lanyard, we still have some available for you.
Several of our members are now working with the Welsh Government on various parts of their forthcoming HIV Action Plan. We are pleased to have supported a focus on challenging stigma and on supporting the development of peer support within Wales; plans are afoot to focus activity on getting the PrEP message out more widely too. We currently expect a preliminary draft of the Plan to be available early summer and expect there will be a 6 week public consultation period – we will make sure you are all informed about it and can contribute.
We finally have all ten portraits photographed for our exhibition of people living with HIV in and from Wales and we hope to launch it this summer in the Senedd. The portraits are of men and women of diverse backgrounds, all living well with HIV. Positive visibility is a very important part of breaking down stigma and inclusion of people with HIV is vital to creating good work on it; a third of our Steering Group are people living with HIV and we try to embody the principle of “nothing about us without us”.
Our research subgroup continues to generate projects. On top of those already mentioned before, we held a successful joint meeting with Cardiff University’s Gender & Sexualities Research Group. We also have MSc students working on the role of community pharmacy in HIV testing and PrEP, a systematic review of peer support and a review of population-level stigma interventions. We are involved with a review by Cardiff University of peer support options for the future in Wales. You can read more about our research and evaluation projects on our website.
Recent media coverage of Wales HIV Testing Week, our World AIDS Day reception and subsequent activities has been high, with 9 articles and TV. Several articles and interviews involving our Steering Group members and covering aspects of HIV advocacy have been published recently. Most notably, we were featured on S4C, BBC News, the ITV Pridecast, Wales Online, ITV Wales News, and in an “AidsMap Chat”. Lisa Power was also the subject of a recent “Face To Face” on ITV Wales with Adrian Masters.
Our website and social media have several new features including a dedicated YouTube channel; updated biographies of our Steering Group; an updated Campaigns & Projects section with T4T and WHAM and a jobs page. We ran a new social media campaign with Testing messages to emphasise to people in Wales that they have a free HIV postal testing service all year round, to run alongside England’s HIV Testing Week in February.
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The FTC&V Team