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World AIDS Day 2023

1 December 2023

– by Adam Newman

1 December 2023 is the 35th anniversary of World AIDS Day. Find out why we support World AIDS Day and the importance of bringing an end to HIV.  

Adam Newman, Dave Gillespie and Kerry Hood at the Senedd in November 2023 for their World AIDS Day event

Over 100,000 people in the UK live withHuman Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV)and there are an estimated 38 million who have the virus worldwide.World AIDS Dayis an opportunity for people to show support for those living with HIV, and to commemorate those who have died from an AIDS-related illness. 

HIV is now a manageable chronic condition, antiretroviral therapy allows people to live long healthy lives with HIV and appropriate treatment means individuals cannot pass the virus on to others (Undetectable equals Untransmittable, U=U). Scientists have made great leaps, and we also have multiple HIV prevention strategies, HIV post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP) and pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) are medications which can be taken to prevent the acquisition of HIV, even if exposed. With treatment, prevention and extensive testing, the UK has a real opportunity to end the transmission of HIV.  

World AIDS Day is important because it reminds us that HIV still exists, that stigma and discrimination remain a reality for many people living with the condition, and that there is a vital need for increased awareness and education about HIV and AIDS. 

Fast Track Cardiff and Vale / Cymru

The Fast Track Cities Initiative (FTC) is a global partnership whose core partners include the International Association of Providers of AIDS Care (IAPAC) and the Joint UN Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS). Thanks to Prof Kerry Hood, in 2019, Cardiff University became a founding partner of Fast Track Cardiff and Vale, alongside Pride Cymru, the NHS and local councils. 

Our colleagues in CTR, David Gillespie and Adam DN Williams, work extensively on their research, supporting student projects, and evaluating various NHS and Public Health Wales services.

David succeeded in gaining a Health and Care Research Wales fellowship to explore adherence to PrEP with Adam receiving a doctoral studentship to explore the relationship between PrEP, sexually transmitted infections, and antimicrobial resistance. Their work spans, HIV prevention, testing, stigma and various areas related to HIV and sexual health, you canread about some of their work. 

Adam and David’s body of award-winning work provided evidence for the development of the Welsh Government’s HIV Action Plan for Wales. The Action Plan sets out the 30 actions needed to achieve this and pledges to eliminate new cases of HIV by 2030. The Action Plan led to the development of Fast Track Cymru, funded by the Welsh Government, with Dr David Gillespie setting the national strategy with Adam Williams leading the research and evaluation for Fast Track Cardiff and the Vale. Most recently Adam Williams received funding for the Learned Society of Wales to develop a Sexual Health Research and Evaluation Networks for Wales, fulfilling one of the actions of the Action Plan.  

Ending stigma 

The HIV Action Plan also aims to achieve zero tolerance of HIV-related stigma in Wales by 2030. Poor understanding of HIV and its transmission leads to discrimination. The best thing we can all do to fight stigma and support people living with HIV is to learn more.  

This short article from the Terence Higgins Trust is a good place to start as it covers the most important things you need to know. You should also remember that people living with HIV are protected under the Equality Act 2010 and should not face discrimination in the workplace. 

What can I do?

It’s important to know your status. If you have HIV, finding out means you can start treatment, stay healthy and avoid passing the virus on to anyone else.The sooner you start treatment, the less likely you are to become seriously ill.In Wales, anyone can order afree, confidential home test kit online. This test is quick and easy to use. To assist in ending HIV transmission order a test today or inform others of the potential to test at home.