Wales HIV testing week promotes free postal kits and tackles stigma

Wales’ second official HIV testing week campaign launches in fight for zero new transmissions by 2030

Wales HIV testing week campaign ‘Be a Star’ posters displayed around the city
CREDIT: Grace Nicholls

Wales’ second official HIV testing week is launching this week to tackle stigma and get people of all ages and backgrounds to regularly test.

The event was developed by HIV activists from Fast Track Cardiff & Vale and the campaign has taken several months to prepare.

People can order free testing kits that can be posted confidentially to their homes. The testing kits are available at the Sexual Health Wales website and are fast and easy-to-use, say the group.

Everyone who is sexually active is encouraged to regularly test, advises the group. “Everyone can be part of the fight to stop new HIV transmissions,” says Fast Track Cardiff & Vale.

Gian Molinu, chair of Fast Track Cardiff and Vale, said: “People in Wales need to know that 21st century HIV is treatable and preventable. We need to get the message across that testing is the key to stopping HIV by 2030.”

Alessandro Ceccarelli, communications lead at Fast Track Cardiff & Vale, said: “It is important that we move away from the idea of one target audience for HIV Testing Week.”

He said: “Irrespective of gender, sexual orientation, age, or race, anyone over 16 should get tested. The virus doesn’t care who you are or what you’ve done in life. As the campaign says, ‘Be a Star, Get Tested’.”

Everyone can be part of the fight to stop new HIV transmissions

Free confidential postal HIV testing kit (illustration)
CREDIT: Grace Nicholls

Ceccarelli said with modern HIV treatment, those who test positive can live as long as everyone else but without knowing their status they cannot get treatment.

FTC&V stated that Wales has a higher prevalence of HIV stigma and late HIV diagnoses than the UK average.

It said: “Late diagnosis can leave lasting damage to your health and increases the risk of transmitting HIV to others as a result of not knowing your status. Don’t wait to get tested.”

The Welsh government has pledged to reach zero new HIV diagnoses and zero stigma by 2030.

Health minister Eluned Morgan said on the website: “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.”

Ceccarelli said the group are hoping to take Wales HIV testing week outside of south Wales and create a network of Welsh cities that can work together to end HIV transmissions by 2030.

Testing week will be running from 21-27 November. There are free posters and other materials available.

A few members of the Fast Track Cardiff & Vale team
CREDIT: Fast Track Cardiff & Vale