LIVING

Prince Harry Hands Out Self-Testing Kits To Help End HIV Stigma

He's carrying on Princess Diana's legacy.

11/16/2017 14:19 EST | Updated 11/16/2017 14:19 EST
Steve Parsons - PA Images via Getty Images
Prince Harry attends an Action for Aids reception at Eden Hall in Singapore in June 2017.

There are plenty of things Prince Harry has done to honour his late mother, Princess Diana, but his work to end the stigma around HIV is a definite standout.

Harry visited Terrence Higgins Trust's HIV testing centre on Wednesday, where he emphasized the importance of getting tested.

"Rather than not knowing your status and being on medication for a period of your life, or the rest of your life, rather than letting yourself get to that point where there is no return, I must stress to everyone how important it is (to get tested)," he said, according to Hello! magazine. "The sooner the better."

The prince has previously taken two HIV tests in public (one of which was with Rihanna) in order to show how easy it is to do.

"The younger generation coming through want to talk about it, but there's still that stigma," he told reporters last year. "If us getting testing normalizes it and makes a difference, even a small difference, then job well done."

Harry's recent visit to the HIV testing centre kicked off National HIV Testing Week in the U.K. During his visit, the 33-year-old took the time to chat with volunteers, and also helped hand out free self-testing kits.

A live demonstration revealed that the kits were easy to use and only require a prick of the finger. It then takes just 15 minutes to get results.

"So the instructions are idiot-proof for people like myself?" Harry joked.

Just like his late mother, Harry continues to break the stigma around HIV/AIDS. Last month, the prince accepted an award on Princess Diana's behalf, which honoured her contributions to the cause 20 years after her death.

"She knew that the misunderstanding of this relatively new disease was creating a dangerous situation when mixed with homophobia," the 33-year-old said in his acceptance speech. "So when, that April [in 1987], she took the hand of a 32-year-old man with HIV, in front of the cameras, she knew exactly what she was doing. She was using her position as Princess of Wales — the most famous woman in the world — to challenge everyone to educate themselves, to find their compassion and to reach out to those who need help instead of pushing them away."

WireImage
Diana, Princess of Wales, shakes hands with an AIDS victim as she opens a new AIDS ward at the Middlesex Hospital in April 1987 in London.

Both Diana and Harry's efforts to encourage people to get tested have certainly made an impact. Although there are still 10,700 people in England who are unaware that they're living with HIV, there has been a 21.8 per cent drop in the number of people who are undiagnosed since 2015, according to Public Health England.

In Canada, a 2016 Global AIDS Response Progress Report estimated that only 79 per cent of people living with HIV knew their diagnosis by the end of 2014, further proving the need for testing.

But breaking the stigma around HIV is only one of the ways Harry is following in his mother's footsteps. The prince is also a humanitarian and supports a number of charities "to try and make a difference." He has also pledged his support to rid the world of landmines by 2025, which is another cause his mother was committed to.

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