The HIV Action Plan for Wales was launched on 7 March 2023 and includes a number of key commitments for the next three years with funding attached to some of them from the Welsh Government. Some of the actions in the Plan are expected to be implemented by Health Boards, Public Health Wales, and NHS Wales as part of their ongoing work on sexual health.
The Plan was launched by the Minister for Health Eluned Morgan MS and created by Welsh Government civil servants working with an advisory group of clinicians, academic researchers, NGOs, people with HIV, and other interested parties. It was subject to a public consultation which received around 50 further submissions and was revised to include further commitments about children and older people with HIV.
The Plan contains 30 promised actions and can be read in full at https://www.gov.wales/hiv-action-plan-wales-2023-2026
Key commitments include:
- Ongoing funding for Wales’ groundbreaking national postal HIV testing service and for further development of it.
- Funding for a national case management system which will enable a far better overview of HIV in Wales and inform future plans for the elimination of new cases; currently, every Health Board has different IT systems which are not capable of working together and which makes accurate data gathering and monitoring very difficult.
- Funding for Fast Track Cymru, a national Fast Track Cities network; this will build on the successful pilot work of Fast Track Cardiff & Vale to create coalitions of interested parties in each Health Board, based around the HIV clinics but including local authorities, academic researchers and charities working on sexual health locally and feeding into a national network to inform best practice
- Funding for a long-term national peer support initiative, the shape of which is as yet unclear but which will be informed by both Welsh research into the needs of people with HIV and by best practice elsewhere; this will be planned via a “task and finish” group in the first year of the Plan. Alongside this, there will also be an “expert patient” programme to skill up people with HIV to take control of their condition (see Positive Self-Management Programme – PSMP).
- Funding for Wales HIV Testing Week; this has been successfully piloted by Fast Track Cardiff & Vale but will now be extended to full national reach using professional social marketing techniques; it aims to encourage more people to test for HIV who have not done so recently
- A project supporting GPs across Wales to offer free postal HIV tests to their adult patients via text messaging; this has the aim of not only increasing testing and diagnosis but also normalising testing and challenging stigma
- Educational interventions with non-specialist healthcare and social care staff, alongside public messaging on the benefits of HIV testing and treatment and on the availability of PrEP, to increase understanding of HIV and challenge stigma
- Increased efforts to ensure that no vulnerable population is left behind in accessing HIV-related services
- Various commitments to best practices and shared care by Health Boards and in local HIV and sexual health clinics
Progress on these and other commitments will be monitored and subject to an annual statement by the Minister for Health to the Senedd.
Do you want to get involved with the implementation of the Action Plan and the work of Fast Track Cardiff & Vale? Check our HIV Advocacy Network and join our workshops.
Find out more about our advocacy work to ask Welsh Government to design and publish an HIV Action Plan for Wales since Spring 2021. Check our Campaign timeline here.