We have to address HIV stigma to get Wales to zero new HIV transmissions, zero preventable deaths and to get everyone with HIV living well. We can only end stigma by working together.
Not only is it important to make sure people living with HIV can live their lives without discrimination, but the fear of stigma can stop people getting tested. This leads to more late diagnoses, which negatively impacts the quality of life of those living with the condition.
21st Century HIV is a project working to decrease HIV stigma and self-stigma in Cardiff & Vale (and by extension Wales).
The project works across the different areas of stigma, including stigma in society, stigma in the health system, and self-stigma.
21st Century HIV is funded by an unrestricted grant from Viiv Healthcare UK Ltd.
In Spring 2021, people registered with a GP cluster in Cardiff City and South will receive a text invitation to order a free HIV self testing kit. This will help reduce the stigma of HIV testing in the community, as well as reaching high risk population groups who have not been tested. The pilot will also inform the appetite for self testing in the wider community.
We will be using this pilot as a hook to reach out to GP practices, community groups and health champions in the area to educate and share resources around HIV.
Positive role models
Evidence shows that people are more likely to hold stigmatising attitudes when they don’t perceive that they know anyone living with HIV or that HIV affects their community.
Increasing the portrayal of people living with HIV will therefore be important to tackle stigma in Wales. We will organise a positive role models campaign online and in poster form, using representatives from different communities, but all have a common connection to Wales and being HIV positive.
This will also give us an opportunity to discuss stigma and the factors contributing to it with communities across Wales.
U=U and testing messages
Increasing access to accurate information on HIV and HIV transmission is an important element to increasing education and reducing stigma.
Marketing campaigns can have an important impact on people’s perceptions. Recent evaluation of the Do It London campaign showed that 67% of Londoners surveyed agreed that it had influenced their behaviour positively towards HIV testing.
We will work to maximise opportunities to promote HIV testing and awareness on the Fast Track Cities Cardiff & Vales social media channels. We will also produce an asset bank for partners to share accurate and interesting content on HIV.
Thanks to the introduction of postal testing by Frisky Wales in 2020, we will also encourage people to get a test for HIV and other STIs.
Fast Track Cities Cardiff are planning a roadshow to inform people across the city on HIV stigma, testing and treatment. We will have a stand at various venues, from hospitals to libraries, using volunteers to talk to people about our work.
These information events will be an opportunity to further promote the role models exhibition, as well as promoting the Frisky Wales postal testing scheme.
Peer support network
The emotional and practical needs of people living with HIV can be better understood and addressed by the involvement of people living with HIV.
This project will scope a framework to build a longer-term peer support network for people with HIV across Wales and link them into existing UK networks and opportunities.
Get in touch
Carwyn Williams, Project Worker