169 new HIV cases in Wales last year

A new campaign to warn that HIV infection is still a health risk launches in Wales on World Aids Day, December 1.

Every year new cases of HIV infection are diagnosed in Wales. There were 169 new cases diagnosed in 2011, compared to 152 in 2010. Of these, 80 cases were due to sex between men, and 60 due to heterosexual contact.

The total number of people in Wales being treated for HIV in 2011 was 1471.

Advertisements with the strapline “Thinking about sex? You are now!” will appear across the country on buses, inside buses and trains, on billboards and at nightclubs, sports clubs, colleges and universities.T

hese advertisements, as well as Bluetooth messaging at train stations in Cardiff, will direct people to the campaign website where they can assess their risk of infection. They can also find out how to protect themselves in future, and where to go for testing.

Chief Medical Officer for Wales, Dr Ruth Hussey, said:”HIV may have slipped somewhat from the collective Welsh consciousness over the years, possibly because, thankfully, we no longer see so many deaths from AIDS.

“However, as the figures demonstrate, the risk of HIV infection remains very real. This new campaign is targeted at a general audience, which reflects the fact that all population groups are at risk if they don’t take sensible precautions.

“There is no vaccine or cure yet available for HIV infection but there is treatment which dramatically slows the progress of the disease. It is therefore vital people assess their risk and get tested if appropriate, as well as taking measures to protect themselves against infection.”

Body Positive Cheshire & North Wales provides holistic services so that people living with HIV can access medical and social care services collectively.

A spokesman said: “We successfully do this by providing a range of services alongside our medical partners in clinical settings. We work towards reducing isolation which is greatly felt when living in rural areas. We encourage HIV positive people by engaging in peer support and within their local communities by accessing a range of practical and emotional support services available within our organisation. Medication has advanced dramatically since the early days and people are living well as a result of the medical developments.

“Sadly, stigma and discrimination continue to be an added burden that people living with HIV face on a daily basis. This is in relation to accessing medical services, employment and attitudes within society. Despite the medical advancements made since 1997 when anti retroviral medication first became available, people living with HIV continue to negotiate the pressure of stigma and discrimination that is synonymous with the condition.

“Body Positive Cheshire & North Wales are recruiting volunteers to help promote safer sex advice and information within local communities to help contribute towards reducing late stage HIV diagnosis and sexually transmitted infections. If you are interested in becoming involved then please contact a member of staff.”