The end of the year is nearly here and as we reflect on the last year there is plenty for us to celebrate.
News since our last bulletin…
We are shortly running an information session with our Advocacy Network dedicated to PrEP services, prescription and access. This online session will run from 6-7pm on Friday 2 December and is open to all – please email@example.com if you would like the link. Our following Advocacy Network meeting in the New Year will focus on Young People and Sexual Health. If you are interested in these free sessions, sign up for our Advocacy Network at the above email and if you have a particular topic that you would like us to discuss in future, please let us know.
As we near December 1st it is important for us to reflect on how far we have come in the fight against HIV and related stigma. To mark World AIDS Day2022 we are hosting a reception at the Senedd on Wednesday 30 November, sponsored by Vaughan Gething MS, addressed by Eluned Morgan, Minister for Health and supported by Viiv Healthcare. In addition to this, a community event is being held from 6-7pm on Thursday 1 December at the National Museum Cardiff’s Reardon Smith Lecture Theatre to support those living with HIV and remember those that have died. This event is open invite and there is no need to book. Speeches will be followed by a short walk to the Memorial Tree to decorate it with ribbons and “leaves” bearing the names of those we are commemorating. LezDiff are also running a (now sold out) event for World AIDS Day in Chapter, Cardiff about the contribution of lesbian women to early AIDS care at which our Secretary, Lisa Power, is speaking. More information is available here.
This year’s Wales HIV Testing Week 2022 has proven a great success. We tripled the number of people visiting the Sexual Health Wales website to order a test kit during the campaign compared to 2021. Thank you to everyone who helped with this mainly social media campaign – especially to our community champions who modelled the “Be A Star, Get Tested” campaign; you all looked fabulous! We would also like to thank community venues across Cardiff that wore our badges and supported us and we hope you saw our digital posters around town – thank you Cardiff Council. Special thanks of course to all of those that took the message #BeAStar seriously and got tested and, last but certainly not least, Doctor Alessandro Ceccarelli, our Steering Group member who created and coordinated the campaign. Congratulations on the formal award of your Doctorate, Alessandro.
Our project Texting 4 Testing is also progressing well. Over 100,000 more text messages promoting a link to order a free HIV home test have gone out from newly participating clusters of GP surgeries across Cardiff in November. Please also look out for our new promotional materials and posters in GP surgeries and clinics across Cardiff & Vale as well as our social media campaign.
Our “HIV 101” leaflet with Cardiff & Vale Councils is now available in both English and Welsh. We have a *.pdf version that you can print freely for yourself, or we have printed leaflets upon request. Email Hana at the advocacy email above.
From 11–13 October Fast Track Cardiff & Vale team members attended the Global Fast Track Cities 2022 conference in Seville: Dr Darren Cousins presenting the development of the HIV Action Plan for Wales and our work with GPs and Adam Williams (a new member of our Steering Group) displaying a poster exploring HIV stigma and GPs in Wales. Separately, Lisa Power also presented the Action Plan to an All Party Parliamentary Group joint virtual meeting with Fast Track Cities in November.
Adam, the latest member of our Steering Group, is a PhD student in the Centre for Trials Research at Cardiff University exploring the relationship between HIV PrEP, STIs and antibiotic resistance among men who have sex with men in Wales. In addition to research on HIV prevention and stigma, Adam does a lot of work with young people and sexual health, including for Sexpression. This is a vital strengthening of our skills as Relationships and Sexuality Education takes centre stage in Wales. We have been invited to meet with Cardiff Council to look at how schools can tackle HIV stigma in the new curriculum.
We and our host charity Pride Cymru have recently signed a lease on office space in central Cardiff. Having this space will mean a meeting room, so we look forward to some in-person or at least hybrid Advocacy Network meetings in future, among other events. We are currently looking for cheap office furniture so if you know of any businesses having a clear out, please do let us know.
Merry Christmas to those who celebrate and Season’s Greetings to those who do not. We hope you have a wonderful December and a Happy New Year! We look forward to seeing what 2023 has in store for us – including the launch of the Wales HIV Action Plan, now likely in February. It’s going to be a busy and exciting year.
Best wishes as always,