Words: Jamie Tabberer; picture: Pexels
Plaid Cymru wants Wales to become the first country to eliminate new HIV cases - and by 2026, no less.
The Welsh nationalist political party made the commitment in its new manifesto, released yesterday.
Plaid has committed to achieving the goal by funding access to HIV prevention drug PrEP, increasing access to sexual health services, information, testing and early treatment, and through support, education, research and community groups.
Like the rest of the UK, the Welsh government is currently working towards a 2030 elimination target.
According to HIV charity Terrence Higgins Trust, the latest figures show that 123 people were newly diagnosed with HIV in Wales in 2019 – a fall of 15% compared to 2018.
"We must make sure political promises are translated into fast action"
Responding to the news, Fraser Wilson, head of media at THT told Attitude: "In order to meet the target of ending new HIV cases by 2030, a lot of the work needs to be frontloaded into the next five years as finishing the job will be the hardest part.
"That’s why it’s exciting to hear Plaid Cymru’s bold vision for HIV in Wales and its target of ending cases by 2026 through increased access to sexual health services and better utilisation of prevention pill PrEP. Just 10 years ago this would have been an unthinkable goal, but we now have highly effective ways of preventing, testing for and treating HIV which make it an achievable one. Thanks to the HIV Commission’s recommendations, we know what we have to do to make the life-changing goal a reality – but we must make sure political promises are translated into fast action.
"We look forward to working with whoever the next Welsh Government is to implement relevant recommendations from the HIV Commission report and make the end of new HIV cases in Wales by 2030 – or sooner – a reality."
Pointing to the importance of regular testing, THT reps said that 57% of those newly diagnosed with HIV in Wales in 2019 were diagnosed late, which is significantly higher than the UK average (42%). Late diagnosis is bad for individuals’ health and also greatly increases the chances of HIV being unwittingly passed on.