We’ve launched a new campaign with Public Health Wales to raise awareness locally about a free pill that protects against contracting HIV. The pill is available via sexual health clinics.
PrEP (pre-exposure prophylaxis) is a drug that is safe and effective and when taken by HIV-negative people before and after sex reduces the risk of getting HIV.
The vast majority of HIV diagnoses in Wales are sexually transmitted, with 47.5% of new diagnoses since 2011 being attributed to men who have sex with men, while 31.6% of HIV diagnoses are acquired through heterosexual contact. There is a steady increase in the number of people living with HIV in Wales, reflecting both an increase in survival and new diagnoses.
The campaign is a partnership between us and Public Health Wales. The message ‘PrEP protects’ is being shared across Wales through advertising in Cardiff, Newport, Swansea and Mold as well as on social media channels.
The HIV prevention pill has been available via the NHS in Wales since 2017 and now this work hopes to increase awareness of its benefits to those who are at risk of HIV.
The campaign is primarily targeting the groups most impacted by HIV in Wales, including gay and bisexual men, Black Africans and trans people.
In Wales, PrEP is available free through sexual health clinics alongside confidential advice about how it works and if it might be suitable for individuals concerned.
Dr Giri Shankar, Professional Lead Consultant for Health Protection at Public Health Wales, said: ‘We want as many people as possible to know about the benefits of PrEP for protecting against HIV. The campaign aims to get people in Wales talking about PrEP and finding out more at our local sexual health clinics and how to access this service.
‘We know that many people don’t know how much progress has been made in preventing HIV and have never even heard of PrEP. We want to change that with the “PrEP protects” campaign.’
Richard Angell, our Campaigns Director, said: ‘PrEP is a game changer for HIV prevention and vital as we now work to end new HIV cases by 2030. We applaud Public Health Wales for taking a proactive approach when it comes to utilising PrEP and its push to raise awareness locally.
‘HIV has changed drastically from the 1980s. Today, someone who tests positive is able to live a long and fulfilling life. Effective treatment means they cannot pass on the virus and can expect to live as long as anyone else. HIV negative people can take PrEP to protect themselves against HIV, which really would have been unthinkable 40 years ago. The more we can shout about this progress, and engage people in it, the more we’ll tackle the stigma and misinformation still surrounding HIV.’
Find out more information about PrEP and how to access it in Wales.