Timeline of Developments:
September 2022: The consultation was closed on Wednesday 14 September. We submitted our response on behalf of Fast Track Cardiff & Vale. Read our consultation response here.
June 2022: Welsh Government’s Action Plan for HIV was published on 14 June 2022 and is now out for consultation until September 2022. It is meant to be a practical document, with 26 actions that the Welsh Government and partners can take to work towards reducing HIV transmissions and bettering the lives of people living with HIV in Wales. Lots of people have worked on parts of this action plan, including several FTC&V volunteers and people living with HIV. We have done our best to get our views across in the Action Plan – and now it’s your turn to have your say. Have your say and check how to respond to the consultation here!
Autumn 2021: Established an HIV Action Plan Working Group chaired by Dr Marion Lyons, a Senior Medical Officer in the Welsh Government, which consists of a diverse range of stakeholders with community-based, professional, academic and, importantly, personally lived experiences.
June 2021: “Welsh Government Programme for government: update” document was published on 17 June and committed to developing an HIV action plan for Wales and tackling “the stigma experienced by those living with HIV”.
May 2021: In May 2021, we joined forces with THT to ask all politicians standing in the Senedd elections to pledge six commitments if they were elected to Government. This included an ask about an HIV Action Plan for Wales.
Wales HIV Action Plan – what is it and what is Fast Track doing?
The Welsh Government have committed to creating an HIV Action Plan for Wales as one of their pledges in the last election. The idea of the plan is to be a roadmap of strategies and actions to reach the Welsh Government and World Health Organisation target of no new HIV diagnoses (new transmissions/cases) by 2030.
If Wales does not change its current approach to tackling HIV, it is very unlikely to hit the 2030 target. But we know there are a number of ways we can change that. So the Welsh Government’s Sexual Health Programme Board have convened an HIV Action Plan working party to focus on creating the change that is needed, from better data to easier access to testing and treatment, supporting community involvement and tackling stigma – all things that Fast Track agrees are necessary.
The Action Plan group has also birthed smaller groups focussing on specific aspects of the Plan – currently one on stigma and one on PrEP, the treatment which stops transmission. Members of Fast Track Cardiff & Vale, including clinicians, researchers and community activists, are involved in these various groups. We also have a seat on the Programme Board.
We have a number of priorities for this work, in line with our existing aims and the manifesto which we published before the election jointly with Terrence Higgins Trust (see below), who is also one of our partners. We also want to ensure that people with HIV and those in key communities at heightened risk are consulted on the final Action Plan (we have helped to recruit “expert patients” for the stigma subgroup) and that recommendations are based wherever possible on existing research evidence and good practice.
We hope to see a draft Action Plan published and consulted on in 2022 for immediate implementation.
An HIV Action Plan for Wales
In May 2021, we joined forces with THT to ask all politicians standing in the Senedd elections to pledge six commitments if they were elected to Government. The following recommendations build on the joint FTC and THT manifesto.
An HIV Action Plan for Wales is crucial to meet the target of zero new HIV transmissions by 2030.
Long term goals are not enough – we need a realistic plan to reach them, with practical actions to increase testing, target resources and tackle stigma in Wales.
Support the establishment of Fast Track City collaborative networks in cities across Wales building on the success of the one in Cardiff & Vale.
Fast Track Cities improve collaboration and increase efficiency, helping each other to end HIV transmission – we have shown that in Cardiff and elsewhere.
Ensure continued funding of the successful national HIV and STI postal testing scheme and support a Welsh HIV Testing Week to promote HIV testing so that everyone knows their status and late diagnoses are reduced.
The most important tool we have now to fight HIV is testing and treatment – Wales needs to invest in helping everyone to test that needs to, at home, by post or in a clinic or outreach service.
Establish a national HIV surveillance (data) system for Wales which is unified and coherent and which will enable improved targeting of resources.
We need high quality, openly available inclusive data on what is happening with HIV in order to target scarce resources; it’s not hard, but it isn’t currently happening.
Ensure Health Boards meet their sexual health commitments and expand PrEP availability in sexual health clinics, GP surgeries and pharmacies across Wales.
We need to ensure that HIV is taken seriously at every level of the Welsh NHS and that it’s made easy to prevent as well as treat it; currently PrEP is only available through specialist sexual health clinics and there is no funded HIV prevention or pro-HIV testing messaging from any health board.
Help to lead a national anti-stigma campaign working with people with HIV and the HIV sector in Wales to challenge prejudice and spread accurate information about 21st century living with HIV.
The biggest remaining barrier to testing and living well with HIV is stigma – in health and public services, in the media and in everyday life. It takes leadership to challenge it and explain the facts of 21st Century HIV.