Prince Harry Teams up with Rugby Star Who Revealed HIV Status to Break Stigma of Testing
Prince Harry and a sporting legend joined forces on Friday to help highlight the need for more understanding about HIV — and to beat the stigma surrounding testing.
Harry teamed up with rugby player Gareth Thomas, who recently revealed he was living with HIV. Thomas has received the support of both the prince and his brother Prince William for opening up about his status and educating the public about his diagnosis.
Harry, who has taken on his late mother Princess Diana’s cause of educating the public about HIV, met at the rugby club Harlequins, in southwest London, to mark National HIV Testing Week, which starts on November 16.
Harry, 35, has undergone two HIV tests in public in recent years – one alongside singer Rihanna in 2016.
During his visit on Friday, Harry met with players from Harlequins’ men’s and women’s teams, as well as inclusive rugby club Kings Cross Steelers, who will share how much of an impact Thomas has had since speaking out about his status.
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The event was hosted by Terrence Higgins Trust, the largest voluntary sector provider of HIV and sexual health services in the U.K. It recently established an independent HIV Commission with National AIDS Trust to develop recommendations for an effective action plan to help reach the ambitious goal of ending new HIV transmissions in England by 2030.
Towards the end of the visit, Harry was given a gift for little baby Archie — a Harlequins rugby jersey.
The Commission is chaired by Dame Inga Beale and commissioners include Mercy Shibemba, who is a young HIV advocate born with the virus.
The emotional video that Thomas released in September when he revealed his HIV status has had a galvanizing effect on encouraging more people to come forward, according to the Terrence Higgins Trust. Since then, the trust has seen a surge in orders for HIV self tests and visits to its website – mirroring the five-fold surge in HIV self-tests reported by Terrence Higgins Trust after Harry tested live on Facebook in 2016.
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In a statement released on Friday, Thomas said, “I spoke out about living with HIV not for me, but for all those people who are struggling and don’t have a platform. For them I want to do everything I can to challenge stigma and out dated views about HIV. That’s why I’m thrilled to be joining the HIV Commission because I want to be a part of a positive change and play a role in driving us towards our goal where no-one else contracts HIV.”
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