Earlier access to testing and treatment aims to end HIV infections in Wales within eight years

  • Video report by ITV Wales journalist Siôn Jenkins

Easier access to treatment and condoms are at the centre of a drive to eliminate new HIV infections in Wales within eight years.

The plan, set out by the Welsh Government, sets out 26 actions to eliminate new HIV infections, improve quality of life and end stigma by 2030.

Wales' health minister will also announce £3.9m to further develop online HIV testing.

More people were tested for HIV between January and March 2022 than in any previous quarter. 

A 12-week consultation period has now opened for people and organisations to comment on the plan.

Health minister Eluned Morgan said: "We have come a long way since the dark days of the 1980s – which were so memorably depicted last year in Channel 4’s It’s a Sin – when ignorance and cruelty towards people with HIV was rife.

"There is no place for ignorance or intolerance in modern Wales and this plan sets out actions to tackle this.

"Working with partners, we have made huge progress in improving access to testing and treatment in Wales and we’re proud of the significant reduction in new diagnoses of HIV.

"There is more to be done and by implementing these actions, we can make a massive difference to the lives of people living with HIV and in protecting current and future generations from the virus. I encourage anyone living with or with experience of working with people with HIV to take part in our consultation.”

Between 2015 and 2021, Wales saw a 75% reduction in new diagnoses of HIV, with a commitment to provide Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP) treatment for anyone who is clinically in need since the summer of 2017 is cited as a factor.

In 2021 there were 48 people newly diagnosed with HIV infection in Wales and approximately 2,800 people accessed care in Wales for HIV. 

Online testing, used throughout the pandemic, is seen as a major tool in tackling HIV infections.

Actions include increasing access to condoms and PrEP, breaking down barriers to testing, developing a national peer support programme for Wales and creating an HIV awareness programme including introducing it into the school curriculum.

Following the success of Fast Track Cardiff & Vale, a collaboration of public bodies which created Wales HIV Testing Week and piloted new services, the plan also recommends the introduction of an all-Wales coalition, Fast Track Cymru.

The aim is to make Wales a 'Fast Track Nation', with the government supporting regional networks of health, social care and community groups to help reach the 2030 goals of no new HIV diagnoses and zero stigma.

Gian Molinu, Chair of Fast Track Cardiff & Vale, said: "We’re pleased that the Welsh Government has recognised that collaboration and inclusion is the way forward and made a commitment to encouraging new ways of working.

"It’s vital that people with HIV and the communities most affected have a say in these plans so we urge people to take part in the consultation."

The draft HIV Action Plan will be published in full on Tuesday (June 14) afternoon.