The story behind HIV charity’s service manager in Cardiff

What is Joshua Hall’s opinion on significant issues of HIV and doing his job in the industry of AIDS?

As a service manager of HIV charity, Joshua Hall (Joshua) has worked in the Terrence Higgins Trust (THT) Cardiff for 12 years. The first time I saw him was in the activity of World’s AIDS day and he gave an impressive presentation to cherish the memory of people who died because of AIDS in the front door of Cardiff National Museum.

“I feel really pleased the people turned up. It’s our first one we had,” says service manager of THT in Cardiff Joshua. “If we have one person who is there to say that actually, I want to stand up and say that I want to remember why we have World AIDS day and I want to remember the people who have lost their lives to HIV the people who living with HIV today. For people to come together.”

The service manager of Terrence Higgins Trust (THT) Cardiff, Joshua Hall.

Although this activity aims to remind people’s awareness of HIV. However, what Joshua and THT do is focusing on the sexual health and avoiding AIDS. “Terrence Higgins Trust has been running now for 35 years. It was set up after Terrence Higgins died of HIV related death and friends of his started to raise awareness around this condition was affecting people who were dying and that’s how the Terrence Higgins Trust started. We’re probably worked around HIV, but we are now HIV in sexual health charity,” says Joshua.

Joshua also recognizes his responsibility when doing his job. He says, “I came into this job because I am really passionate about sexual health. I don’t think we talk about sex enough that sex is quite a taboo subject, and yet many people engage in sexual activity, but we don’t talk about it. If we don’t talk about a subject, then people are less informed. People going to take more risks in women and their health. For me, it’s really important that people are able to talk about it that people have a right to good sexual health and good sexual health services. So I came into this work because I am really passionate that people should be able to talk openly about their sex life, any problems they’re having and also about sexuality as well, because many people get confused, many people are in relationships or in sexual relationships that is not healthy and so by understanding working people. Hopefully, we can get people to be empowered to be able to and speak about the sex they want or certainly, speak out if their sex going on that they don’t want.”

The reason why people should care about sexual health because of it has the significant relationship with AIDS. In 2016, BBC report the HIV diagnosis has reached 15-years-high in Wales. Joshua has noticed that the number of HIV diagnosis in Cardiff has increased. “There are about 2600 people living with HIV in Wales,” says Joshua. “What we’re seeing is more and more people being diagnosed with HIV. It’s reflected right across the country, across the UK. But for Wales, we’ve always had low numbers and low prevalence. In 2016, we did see one of the highest increases in diagnosis and I think that is because of more people testing, so more people coming forward to test. So that would be increased but also people are taking more risks (unprotected sex) as well.”

The entry of Terrence Higgins Trust (THT) Cardiff.

Also, Joshua is a person who has the strong relationship with the Pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) and he believes this drug is important to Wales. According to ITV report, the PrEP is “a course of HIV drugs taken by HIV negative people that effectively stops HIV infection.” “I think it’s a breakthrough. I was part of the expert group with practice your talk about which is Pre-exposure prophylaxis and PrEP has been used for many years and is being used for needle stick injury and for people who have been exposed to or believing must be exposed to HIV,” says Joshua. “It was always taken after the risk. And there it’s the same medication but you now take this on a daily basis and you take it to prevent HIV from developing. And I think the fact that it’s now free and available in Wales is a massive breakthrough and a step towards trying to reduce the number of people become infected with HIV. My feelings are that I believe as long as we can reduce the numbers of people living with HIV and all the new diagnosis. But I don’t think PrEP is solely the answer.”

Although this drug is effective, the future of the situation of this drug in Wales still unpredictable. Joshua has paid close attention to the news about it and he has worked a lot in this area. “When the proposal was put through, the first of all, any medication that has been approved for the Wales government goes to a group called the AWMSG, the All Wales medical strategy group and they will look at all medications being proposed and they look at how effective it is, what the cost is, and when they looked at PrEP, they thought it wasn’t cost-effective, because the price could be very high. What we have to look at is the cost of HIV medication for a lifetime, for somebody who has contracted the virus. After the three years, they will look at the report to see the effectiveness of it and then they will decide whether they will keep PrEP available,” says Joshua.

Doing these large number of works, such as talking with patients and doing research on drugs, all these works don’t make Joshua unhappy in the non-profit charity. “I was looking to make a fortune for myself. Before I worked in sexual health, I work in homeless within homelessness drugs and alcohol. Having a salary at the end of the month is nice to take home and long as I have enough that I can live on a be happy,” says Joshua. “The rewards are when you work with somebody and you see those achievements of people make there’s no money that can give that reward and so I do the work because if I didn’t then there would be many people who wouldn’t do as well and so that for me is far better than taking home a big up a pack of money.”

This room is prepared for Joshua to talk with HIV patients.

The sense of achievement is a significant part of doing his job which is helping people out of the depression of being diagnosed with HIV. Joshua mentioned there was a female client and her situation was terrible, which means her white blood count and immune system were not roughly existed. Nobody of Joshua’s colleagues believed that female could deal with this serious situation including Joshua although they worked to encourage her. However, this female client changed her life and she turned around her condition. Then, she had a marriage with someone and she backed to work already. “So that is just one of many successful stories for my clients who do come through. They hit rock bottom, they get told that the HIV positive, their world falls apart and people who gossip about them. And yet these people still pull from and they become stronger in themselves and I think that’s the credit to them,” says Joshua.