Prince Harry offers 'message of support' to Tackle HIV campaign

Prince Harry offers ‘inspiring message of support’ to rugby player Gareth Thomas’ Tackle HIV campaign – but highlights ‘how far we still have to go’ to tackle the stigma around the virus

  • Prince Harry, 35, has offered an ‘inspiring message of support’ to Tackle HIV
  • New campaign is in partnership with ViiV Healthcare and Terrence Higgins Trust 
  • Led by former rugby player Gareth Thomas and aims to tackle stigma around HIV

Prince Harry has offered an ‘inspiring message of support’ to a new campaign which aims to tackle the stigma and misunderstanding around HIV. 

Taking to Instagram, @tacklehiv shared a quote from the royal, 35, and captioned the post: ‘An inspiring message of support from the Duke of Sussex.’

‘Prince Harry is supporting us in our mission to #TackleHIV and we are honoured to have him on this journey.’

Tackle HIV is a new campaign led by former Welsh rugby player Gareth Thomas in partnership with ViiV Healthcare and the Terrence Higgins Trust.

Prince Harry, 35, has offered an ‘inspiring message of support’ to a new campaign which aims to tackle the stigma and misunderstanding around HIV. Pictured, attending a Terrence Higgins Trust event with former Wales rugby captain Gareth Thomas at the Stoop, Twickenham, ahead of National HIV Testing Week, Friday November 8, 2019

Prince Harry hugs former rugby player Gareth Thomas during his visit at the Twickenham Stoop in London, on November 8, 2019

Taking to Instagram, @tacklehiv penned: ‘An inspiring message of support from the Duke of Sussex. Prince Harry is supporting us in our mission to #TackleHIV and we are honoured to have him on this journey.;

Offering words of support, Harry penned: ‘It has been amazing to see how much progress has been made in the fight against HIV. 

‘Since I started campaigning on this issue I have been honoured to spend time with the people who are leading this charge.

‘Thanks to them, we have moved from a time of social panic and hatred, to a time when the public come out into the streets to cheer for Gareth, a man living openly with HIV, as he cycled the length of Britain.

But this progress hides how far we still have to go. Stigma, misunderstanding and discrimination remain the greatest barriers to defeating this virus.’

The duke and the sportsman are meeting the club players at the Twickenham Stoop, home of Harlequins, ahead of National HIV Testing Week

I hope everyone is inspired by “Alfie,” and will support him and the Tackle HIV campaign to improve understanding of it, and better support people who are living with it.’  

Gareth Thomas is hoping his new Tackle HIV campaign will help start up a new conversation and educate those who have abused him and others with the virus.

The sportsman revealed in September he was HIV positive with undetectable status and the following day competed a gruelling 140-mile Ironman triathlon.

Nine months on, the 45-year-old continues to live a ‘happy, normal and healthy life’ but like many was unaware of what it meant to have the virus when he was first diagnosed.

Thomas said: ‘I felt maybe nine months ago when I spoke about my HIV diagnosis that I started a conversation and it becomes relevant for a while, but then the conversation stops.

‘What I wanted to do was to keep that conversation going because at the start of this campaign we did a survey and the results kind of shocked and scared me a little bit.’

How Diana’s handshake with Aids patient changed world’s view of the disease

In April 1987, Princess Diana shook hands with a gay man who was dying of AIDS.

The People’s Princess touched the unnamed man without wearing gloves, challenging the previously believed notion the disease could be passed via skin-to-skin contact.

She was quoted as saying: ‘HIV does not make people dangerous to know. 

‘You can shake their hands and give them a hug. Heaven knows they need it’.

At the time, Princess Diana was opening the UK’s first unit that exclusively cared for HIV/AIDS patients at London Middlesex Hospital.

Princess Diana was famously the first member of the Royal Family to touch someone with AIDS. 

It is unclear if this picture is the first time she made physical contact with an HIV-infected patient.  

The People’s Princess would also regularly visit the Lighthouse, both with the media present and without.

According to Dr Rosemary Gillespie, chief executive of the HIV charity Terrence Higgins Trust: ‘London Lighthouse offered residential and day care for men, women and children living with HIV and AIDS, and provided a refuge and respite to people marginalised and abandoned because of their diagnosis’.

Princess Diana was a patron of the National AIDS Trust at the time of her death in 1997. 

A recent Tackle HIV survey, conducted amongst 4,000 adults in the UK, highlighted the stigma and misunderstanding still attached despite advances in science and medicine.

Of those surveyed, 81 per cent said the main reason why they would or might end a relationship with a potential partner who was HIV positive was being worried about contracting HIV themselves.

Fewer than one in five people know that if a person living with HIV is taking effective treatment, they cannot pass it on while 34 per cent said they would not play contact sport if they knew one of their opponents had HIV.

Thomas added: ‘I live a full and happy, normal, healthy life taking one single tablet a day which means I’m undetectable so I can’t transfer HIV onto another single person whether it be on a rugby field or any other environment.’

When the ex-British and Irish Lions captain revealed he had been diagnosed in September, the Duke of Sussex was one of many to offer their support.

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