Britain’s Prince Harry Vows to Finish Late Mother Diana’s HIV Work

Britain’s Prince Harry © Victoria Jones/Pool via REUTERS

Princess Diana famously shook hands with AIDS patients at a London hospital in 1987, an action that was seen as a milestone in the battle against the stigma surrounding people with the virus.

Her son, Britain’s Prince Harry, has said that he feels compelled to try to finish the work of his late mother in tackling HIV and the stigma around it. A prominent HIV and AIDS campaigner, Harry urged people to get tested for the disease during February’s National HIV Testing Week.

Speaking from his home in Los Angeles, Prince Harry opened up on the importance of “finishing the job” that his mother, Princess Diana, started in terms of tackling HIV.

During a 30-minute call with ex-Wales rugby captain Gareth Thomas, a good friend of Harry’s, to raise awareness for National HIV Testing Week, the Prince stressed that he was going to try to continue his late mother’s bid, following her death, to remove the stigma surrounding the virus.

“My mum’s work was unfinished,” he told Gareth Thomas, who announced in 2019 he was HIV positive, in a video to mark National HIV Testing Week.

“I feel obligated to try and continue that as much as possible. I could never, you know, fill her shoes especially in this particular space … because of what she did and what she stood for and how vocal she was about this issue.”

Princess Diana, Mother of Prince Harry, speaking about HIV
The late Princess of Wales addresses the 2nd international conference on HIV in children and mothers. © Reuters/Ian Waldie

The World Health Organization estimates that there were about 38 million people living with HIV at the end of 2020 and that AIDS-related illnesses have claimed more than 36 million lives since it began in the 1980s.

Leading HIV/AIDS charities are hoping that more exhaustive testing could lead to an end to new HIV cases in England by 2030.

Harry underwent a test for HIV in 2016, which sparked a 500 percent increase in requests for tests from one charity, he said. However, he said HIV testing had gone down about 30 percent during the COVID-19 pandemic.

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

The Prince also teamed up with tennis star Serena Williams at an event for mental health awareness in February.

Acting in his role as Chief Impact Officer for professional coaching and mental health organization BetterUp, the Duke of Sussex teamed up with tennis ace Serena Williams—who is close friends with his wife, Meghan, Duchess of Sussex—and the company’s CEO Alexi Robichaux for a conversation about “cultivating the power of mental fitness.”

The discussion was part of the company’s virtual Inner Work Day, and the trio opened up to share “personal stories” about their own experiences.

An agenda for the event described the talk: “From creating companies and foundations designed to inspire others to achieve their best to tackling challenges and finding success both in and outside of work, Serena, Prince Harry, and Alexi share their personal stories and unique perspectives.”

Harry’s role with BetterUp was announced in March 2021, and last month, the prince—who stepped down as a working royal two years ago—caused a stir when he said people who quit their jobs because it doesn’t bring them joy should be “celebrated.”

In an interview with tech news website Fast Company in his role for BetterUp, Harry was asked about the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on increased job resignations.

He replied: “While on the surface it looks like these last couple of years brought all these issues to the foreground, the reality is these struggles and issues have been brewing for quite some time.”

“We’re just at the beginning of the mental health awakening,” Harry continued. “This work has never been more important because people are finally paying attention, and a big component of this mission is building awareness and continuing to pioneer the conversation.”

“I’ve actually discovered recently, courtesy of a chat with [BetterUp science board member] Adam Grant, that a lot of the job resignations you mention aren’t all bad. In fact, it is a sign that with self-awareness comes the need for change. Many people around the world have been stuck in jobs that didn’t bring them joy, and now they’re putting their mental health and happiness first. This is something to be celebrated.”

(Source: Reuters)

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