How Harry’s Following In Diana’s Steps To Fight HIV StigmaSeptember 16, 2019
Prince Harry’s 35th birthday plans were postponed to share a message of support for Gareth Thomas, a retired rugby player who stated that he is HIV positive. He told Twitter followers in an emotional video that although he felt “extremely vulnerable”, he wanted to “educate and break the stigma” around the topic of HIV.
With the moving announcement on Instagram, it received support from Prince Harry, writing: ”Gareth, you are an absolute legend! In sharing your story of being HIV+, you are saving lives and shattering stigma, by showing you can be strong and resilient while living with HIV. We should all be appalled by the way you were forced to speak your truth, it is yours and yours alone to share on your terms and I and millions stand with you.”
Continuing the work of his late mother Princess Diana – this was the latest move by the royal to help break the taboo around the subject.
Little was known about HIV / AIDS in the 1980s, how it is transmitted, causing panic and fear in the UK.
In 1987, the first member of the royal family to make contact with AIDS victims was Diana. Diana did not wear gloves when greeting HIV patients at Middlesex Hospital, sending a message that the virus could not be spread by regular contact.
Diana later became the patron of the National AIDS Foundation in 1991and it was one of six patronages she kept after her divorce from Prince Charles in 1996. In 1991, at a conference on children and AIDS, she said:”HIV does not make people dangerous to know. You can shake their hands and give them a hug. Heaven knows they need it. What’s more, you can share their homes, their workplaces, and their playgrounds and toys.”
After her death in 1997, her sons William and Harry have been continuing her legacy by working with various charitable initiatives close to their mother’s heart.
Harry and Prince Seeiso of Lesotho in 2006 jointly founded Sentebale, a charity to support the mental health and wellbeing of children and young people affected by HIV and AIDS in Lesotho, Botswana and Malawi. At the age of 19, Harry visited the small African nation and was moved by the plight of children orphaned by the AIDS pandemic. Sentebale means ‘forget-me-not’ in Sesotho (the language of Lesotho) which was also Diana’s favourite flower.
Тhe Prince has taken part in initiatives and events to raise funds and awareness for his charity, including the polo cup in Rome in May and the Sentebale Audi Concert (headlined by Rita Ora) in June this year. Тo encourages people to get tested and to remove the stigma around taking one, Prince Harry in 2016 was tested by a live HIV test on social media in Guy’s and St Thomas’ Hospital.
While celebrating the country’s independence, along with singer Rihanna in Barbados Prince Harry passed a second test just five months later.
In 2018, the Duke has teamed up with long-time friend Sir Elton John to launch the MedStar coalition, which aims to end the AIDS epidemic by 2030Harry on his speech at the International Aids Conference, said that while progress has been made, it is ”at risk from a dangerous complacency.” He added: ”Too many around the world are still ignoring the damaging knock-on effect on education and other community services from not prioritising HIV prevention and treatment.”
Harry and Meghan marked World AIDS Day when they carried out their first official public engagement together in Nottingham on December 2017, where they met representatives from the local Terrence Higgins Trust
Also, this is a subject that Harry clearly feels strongly about and now as a husband and a father, it’s work that he and the Duchess of Sussex will keep as one of their core initiatives.
The Prince on a number of occasions through the years has teamed up with the sexual health charity (founded after the death of Hansard reporter and DJ Terry Higgins in 1982).
In May 2018 when they got married, instead of wedding gifts, they asked well-wishers to donate to seven chosen charities. When Harry selected The Children’s HIV Association (CHIVA) to be one of the recipients he showed his support for the cause again.
The Duke and Duchess are preparing for their royal tour of Africa next week and Harry will continue to show his support; a large focus of his engagements will be helping young people affected by HIV