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.

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