Prince Harry Has a Powerful Conversation About HIV with British Rugby Star Gareth Thomas

Thomas has consistently continued the fight against HIV around the world. Now, Prince Harry is helping to further tackle the stigma in a new film to mark National HIV Testing Week in the U.K.

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The Duke of Sussex joined British rugby legend Gareth Thomas for a powerful on-camera conversation about living life with HIV and educating others about the realities of the virus.

In the short film, which was recorded in the stands of the Harlequins rugby club on November 8, Harry speaks to the retired Welsh rugby captain about the importance of people of all backgrounds to know their HIV status. The goal, Harry says, is to “normalize testing... and make it easier for those that are fearful, that are scared to come forward.”

The Duke Of Sussex Attends A Terrence Higgins Trust Event Ahead Of National HIV Testing Week
Gareth Thomas and the Duke of Sussex attend an event ahead of the National HIV Testing Week on November 8.
Karwai TangGetty Images

Thomas, 45, earlier this year revealed that he received a positive HIV diagnosis but is now living a healthy life with an undetectable status thanks to ongoing treatment, meaning that his virus cannot be transmitted to another person. “We do so much around our health — going to the dentist, going to the doctor,” he tells Harry. “But when it comes to sexual health testing, there’s the stigma and fear around it.”

Gareth and Harry have remained in close contact since he was forced by a British tabloid to go public with his HIV status, often speaking over and exchanging text messages. “In sharing your story of being HIV+, you are saving lives and shattering stigma, by showing you can be strong and resilient while living with HIV,” the duke wrote on the @SussexRoyal Instagram account in September. "We should all be appalled by the way you were forced to speak your truth, it is yours and yours alone to share on your terms and I and millions stand with you."

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“Gareth, you are an absolute legend! In sharing your story of being HIV+, you are saving lives and shattering stigma, by showing you can be strong and resilient while living with HIV. We should all be appalled by the way you were forced to speak your truth, it is yours and yours alone to share on your terms and I and millions stand with you.” - H • A lot of you will know who Gareth Thomas is, but many of you may not. This retired welsh rugby player, father, husband, role model - today revealed he is HIV positive. In his statement he shares: Hello, I’m Gareth Thomas 🏉🏴󠁧󠁢󠁷󠁬󠁳󠁿 and I want to share my secret with you. Why? Because it’s mine to tell you. Not the evils that make my life hell, threatening to tell you before I do. And because I believe in you, and I trust you. I am living with HIV. Now you have that information, that makes me extremely vulnerable, but it does not make me weak. Now even though I’ve been forced to tell you this, I choose to fight, to educate and break the stigma around this subject. And that begins today, when I take on the toughest Iron Man in the world in Tenby 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁷󠁬󠁳󠁿 and I push myself physically to the limits. I’m asking you to help me to show that everyone lives in fear of people’s reactions and opinions, but that doesn’t mean we have to hide. But to do this, I really really need your support. @gareththomasofficial #YourRaceYourVictory Photo©️Rowan Griffiths/Sunday Mirror

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Today’s video was filmed by Britain’s leading HIV and sexual health charity the Terrence Higgins Trust, whose work was first championed by Princess Diana in the 1980s. It’s a subject that Prince Harry has continued to spread awareness on, even testing his HIV status live on Facebook in 2016 — a moment that saw a five-fold increase in orders for HIV testing kits. Thomas is also now an HIV Commissioner for the Trust.

New statistics from Public Health England suggest that around 1 in 14 people living with HIV in the U.K. remain undiagnosed while 43 percent of people diagnosed last year were diagnosed late, which is after damage to the immune system by the virus has already begun.

Ian Green, chief executive of the Terrence Higgins Trust, tells BAZAAR.com, “We’re proud to bring together The Duke of Sussex and Gareth Thomas–two individuals who have done so much to challenge people’s perceptions of HIV and tackle stigma. That’s because when they speak out about the realities of HIV, people listen and act.”

For more information on National HIV Testing Week, visit tht.org.uk.


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