Prince Harry praises Princess Diana for challenging stigmas around HIV

The Duke of Sussex has urged members of the public to get tested for the virus

<p>Prince Harry says Princess Diana’s work is ‘unfinished'</p>

Prince Harry says Princess Diana’s work is ‘unfinished'

Leer en Español

Prince Harry has urged the public to “go and get a test” for HIV as he reflects on his late mother, Princess Diana’s work in breaking taboos surrounding the illness.

The Duke of Sussex sat down with former rugby player Gareth Thomas for a video call to mark National HIV Testing Week, which runs from 7-13 February.

Speaking from his home in California, Harry said: “Every single one of us has a duty, or at least an opportunity, to get tested ourselves or to make it easier for everybody else to get tested. And then it just becomes a regular thing like anything else.

“This testing week, especially in the UK, or wherever you are in the world, go and get a test. Let people know that you know your status. Do it!”

When asked why he feels so passionately about advocating for HIV awareness and treatment, the Duke said Princess Diana’s work was “unfinished”.

Diana, who died in a car crash in 1997, has long been praised for her efforts in ending stigmas around HIV and AIDS.

In April 1987, she opened the UK’s first specialist HIV/AIDS unit at London’s Middlesex Hospital.

At a time when many still believed HIV could be contracted through simple contact like hugging, she made a point to hug and shake the hands of those suffering from the virus, telling the public: “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.”

Reflecting on Diana’s impact, Harry said he feels a duty to try and continue her work as much as possible.

“Once you get to meet people and you see the suffering around the world, I certainly can’t turn my back on that,” he said.

“I could never fill her [Diana’s] shoes, especially in this particular space, but because of what she did and what she stood for and how vocal she was about this issue... it’s a converging of all these different pieces.

“What my mum did and so many other people did at that time was to smash that wall down, and kick the door open and say, ‘No, when people are suffering, then we need to learn more’.

“I’ve seen huge change. People are able and happy to talk about HIV so much more openly, but the stigma still exists and therefore the testing is still a problem.”

The UK has seen a significant decrease in HIV transmission in recent years thanks to a growing availability of HIV prevention pill PrEP, routine HIV testing and rapid treatment which stops those who are diagnosed from passing on the infection.

Earlier this week, figures from the UK Health Security Agency revealed that the number of new HIV diagnoses in heterosexual people are higher than those in gay and bisexual men for the first time in a decade.

In the year leading to December 2021, 45 per cent of all new diagnoses were in gay and bisexual men, while 50 per cent were in heterosexual men or women.

Additionally, more than half of heterosexual men and women were diagnosed at a late stage.

Terrence Higgins Trust, a charity that campaigns for HIV education, said this is likely driven by a belief among heterosexual men and women “that they are not at risk of HIV, which is often reinforced by healthcare professionals”.

As part of National HIV Testing Week, free HIV test kits are being made available to the public by the NHS.

Anyone who is sexually active is being encouraged to take a test, which can be ordered here.

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Please enter a valid email
Please enter a valid email
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Please enter your first name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
Please enter your last name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
You must be over 18 years old to register
You must be over 18 years old to register
Opt-out-policy
You can opt-out at any time by signing in to your account to manage your preferences. Each email has a link to unsubscribe.

By clicking ‘Create my account’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Join our new commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies

Comments

Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in