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Like Mother, Like Son: The British Royals Who Battle HIV

Tags: Opinion


 

Earlier today Prince Harry walked into central London's Guys and St Thomas' Hospital to get tested for HIV. The tester went over the procedure with him, and within a minute Prince Harry found out that he was non-reactive. He was amazed on how quickly the test took. The whole procedure was also live on Facebook. Prince Harry wanted everyone to see how easy it was to have it done.

His mother, the late Princess Diana, did her best to fight another stigma that was attached with HIV.

At the height of the AIDS crisis Princess Diana would show the world that HIV was not easily passed on to someone else. She went to the Middlesex Hospital in London and shook hands, without gloves, with the staff and patients. However, due to the stigma, only one patient agreed to have a photo with the Princess as long as his back was towards the camera.

The Princess would eventually travel the world meeting with AIDS patients and showing them compassion by sitting with them, shaking their hands and even hugging them. Journalist Judy Wade commented that "Shaking hands with an AIDS patient is the most important thing a royal's done in 200 years."

On April 22, 1991 Diana spoke at the Children and AIDS Conference, sponsored by the National AIDS Trust: “HIV does not make people dangerous to know, so 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.”

Diana understood and saw firsthand the ravaging effects of this disease. She interrupted her family holiday in August of 1991 when she learned that her close friend Adrian Ward-Jackson, 41, was in the terminal stages of AIDS at St. Mary's Hospital in London. She would visit with him for three days before he died. Adrian was her dear friend. They would talk about the ballet and she attended every fundraiser gala that he had thrown. He also only told her and his closest friends that he had AIDS.  

She was a patron of the National AIDS Trust and did everything she could to raise money for this important cause. Before her untimely death, she auctioned off 79 cocktail and evening dresses, raising over $5.5 million for her charities.

Like his mum, Prince Harry is working to show people that the battle against HIV isn’t over yet. He is attending meetings and conferences in hopes to get everyone with HIV the medications and help that are needed. He will be attending the International AIDS Conference in Durbin, South Africa later this month to meet with leaders in the field and to speak to the assembled delegates.