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.”
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."
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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