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Council backs plan to eliminate HIV/AIDS in Wales within eight years

Cardiff Council has endorsed the Welsh Government’s plan to eradicate the HIV virus in Wales and achieve zero tolerance of HIV-related stigma by 2030.

A report due to go before the council’s Cabinet on Wednesday, September 28, outlines the HIV Action Plan for Wales and explains the history of the virus, which began infecting people in the 1970s.

Today, more than 35 million are living with HIV/AIDS across the world, although huge progress has been made in the fight against it. There is no cure, but infection rates have fallen or stabilized in many countries and with effective prevention, diagnosis, treatment and care HIV has become a manageable, chronic condition.

In Wales between 2012 and 2021 there was a decrease in new HIV diagnoses of 75% but it is estimated that between 11% and 18% of people living with HIV are currently unaware they have the infection.

A report in 2019 revealed that Cardiff has the highest prevalence in Wales – around 1,000 cases – but the proportion of those diagnosed late is 62%, compared with the UK average of 42%. “This means that more people will likely be dependent on hospital care and are more likely to pass on their HIV to other partners as they are not aware of their status nor receiving appropriate treatment,” said the report.

Now, the HIV Action Plan for Wales aims to tackle these issues through five key actions:

  • Establishing Wales as a Fast Track Nation, building on the success of the Fast Track Cities initiative in Cardiff and the Vale, which employs methods such as campaigns and ‘testing weeks’ to support GPs
  • Involvement of voluntary and community groups
  • Funding and development of an all-Wales sexual health case management system
  • Health boards and trusts to report on the implementations of the actions in the plan
  • Establishment of an Action Plan Oversight Group

In compiling Cardiff Council’s response to the Action Plan, it consulted with Terrence Higgins Trust Cymru, the leading UK AIDS charity, Cardiff University, Fast Track Cardiff and Vale and Pride Cymru. The Council welcomes the three core principles of the Action Plan:

  • A zero tolerance approach to stigma
  • A focus on co-creation in partnership with living with HIV from all backgrounds, cultures, sexuality, ages, genders and geographical areas, and
  • A commitment to robust monitoring and evaluation

To help tackle stigma, the council is keen to see HIV awareness training extended to include wider local authority staff and that consideration is given to ensure school pupils are “given the right information at the appropriate time” when it comes to learning about prevention.

 Cllr Julie Sangani, the Council’s Cabinet member for Public Health, said the HIV Action Plan makes a real contribution to the battle against HIV/AIDS. “In our response, the Council has worked with many groups who are committed to eradicating this virus and ending the stigma that many people living with HIV face.

“We look forward to working in partnership with the Welsh Government, partners and stakeholders to prevent news cases and improve the lives of people living with HIV.”