Better access to condoms, preventative drugs and specific lessons in schools are among proposals to end new cases of HIV in Wales within eight years.
Allowing doctors and chemists to give HIV drugs and improving online testing are part of a 26-point Welsh government plan to be announced on Tuesday.
Wales was the first UK nation to pledge to stop new HIV cases by 2030.
said Health Minister Eluned Morgan.
Tests for HIV spiked in Wales when It’s A Sin, Welsh screenwriter Russell T Davies’ record-breaking drama that followed a group of friends during the 1980s Aids crisis, first hit TV screens in early 2021.
What’s the plan to ‘eliminate’ HIV?
England has already revealed its strategy to “eliminate” new HIV cases by 2030 and now the Welsh government has announced how it aims to improve quality of life for those living with the virus and end stigma by the start of the next decade.
UN figures suggested in 2020 that about 38 million people worldwide were living with HIV and 700,000 died from Aids-related illnesses, which can be the result of HIV going untreated.
It was estimated more than 105,000 people were living with HIV in the UK, according to the latest data from National Aids Trust, with nearly 2,800 of those having HIV care in Wales.
The Welsh government-led plan is to improve access to PrEP and allow GPs and community pharmacies in all parts of Wales, especially in rural areas and underserved communities, to be able to give out the HIV prevention drug.
What is PrEP?
- PrEP – or pre-exposure prophylaxis – is a pill taken daily, or on demand prior to having sex, to prevent HIV infection
- If taken consistently, when a condom is not worn and someone comes into contact with HIV, it protects cells in the body and disables the virus to stop it multiplying
- A UK Medical Research Council-run study comparing gay men on PrEP against non-users found an 86% fall in new HIV infections in PrEP users
- Many in the sexual health sector say PrEP, when taken correctly, is almost 100% effective
- It is aimed at men who have sex with men without a condom as well as others at high risk, including HIV-negative partners of individuals with HIV that is not virally suppressed
- Researchers are assessing demand for the drug and its effect on the number of new HIV infections
Testing for HIV could be made “more accessible” and “promoted more widely to tackle inequalities” with “texting for testing” pilots extended and rapid test click and collect options available after £3.9m investment from Welsh government.
Marlon Van Der Mark had HIV for two years before he felt able to tell family and a few close friends.
said the 24-year-old from Cardiff.
“So when I ended up catching it, I was in complete shock. It was the most horrifying moment of my life.
"Then if you did look online and someone had spoken about it, it was spoken about negatively so that just encouraged my fear even more. I lived most of my few years when I first got diagnosed in denial."
Now Marlon, who was diagnosed with HIV aged 20, posts videos on social media to help dispel HIV myths and break its stigma.
The Welsh government-led plan wants to use the curriculum to “effectively address HIV, PrEP and stigma” to school children as well as help support those those living with HIV to “live better lives”.
Ms Morgan said.
The UK’s leading HIV and sexual health charity has welcomed Wales’ “ambitious commitment” for something it said could be life-changing.
said Terrence Higgins Trust chief executive Ian Green.
A 12-week consultation period has started for people and organisations to comment on the plan that will be run by Welsh government, health boards, local councils, charities and community groups.
"That's not the case. So I think it's really important to start talking to young people, getting them to understand, not just about HIV but about sexual health generally."