Princess urges Aids compassion

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The Princess of Wales spoke of the 'aching loneliness and rejection' among Aids victims yesterday as she appealed for compassion for sufferers and warned of the dangers of ignoring the disease.

She described her first meeting with a woman dying of Aids, whose body, racked by infections, was visibly wasting away.

'Her wasted hand reached out for help and support. She had been abandoned by her family, seen as an unbearable embarrassment and disgrace,' the princess told a conference of medical researchers seeking a cure for Aids.

'And I am still meeting patients like her, rejected by family and past friends. Leaving them with the fear of not being able to find someone to share their emotional overload, their physical disablement and, ultimately, their death.

'It is hard to find words to express the aching loneliness and rejection I have found them experiencing as they approach the end of their lives.'

Too many people, the princess said in London, had used Aids as an issue to which they could add their own prejudices.

'If their views were voiced to help fight the disease that would be fine. However, too often their attitudes reveal only a narrowness of mind and a sad lack of common humanity,' she said.

'It is doubly difficult to deal with Aids in a country like Britain where there is still an understandable reluctance to have frank and open discussions on emotional issues.

'We need to learn how to break through this barrier of inhibition before we are ready to face fully the challenge of Aids.'