Continuing his work to raise awareness about HIV and AIDS to people of his generation, Prince Harry visited NAZ, a sexual health charity in London. There, he met staff who provide support and advice to members of minority communities living with HIV in London. Particularly black, Asian and other ethnic communities who, because of their minority status, might face other stigmatisation.
Also whilst at the Fulham’s Hurlingham Club, the Prince met the Joyful Noise choir as they rehearsed for the Oscars awards to take place this evening. These awards were created in 2012 by NAZ to ‘programmes, people and media which challenge HIV and homophobic stigma.’
The Joyful Noise choir is unique because all of its members are living with HIV. They also come from different and diverse backgrounds, are of several faiths, sexual orientations and ethnicities and identify with all genders. Prince Harry recognised the sensitivity of his visit. But, with persistence and urgency, he stressed why he needed to visit NAZ and how the young people there need to make a difference now instead of later to make HIV/AIDS disappear.
After the choral group sang several songs, such as No Woman No Cry and Everything’s Gonna Be Alright, the Prince took to the stage and addressed them: “I don’t believe we can really smash the stigma unless people like yourselves are willing to talk.”
At first, only a few of the choir’s members were willing to be photographed with Harry, but by the end of his time there, all 29 members present had lined up beside him.
The Prince spoke passionately about reversing the stigma around HIV/AIDS: “I know there are so many issues around family stuff and cultural stuff, I know that, but I really do believe and I’ve said this to the really young generation, the kids as well, I know it’s a sensitive subject but we’ve got to do this and people need to hear it from you.
“They don’t want to hear it from me, they want to hear it from you, and I honestly believe that’s the only way we can do it.”
He continued, saying: “I don’t want to be here in 10 years’ time talking to you guys going ‘oh yeah we’re making a difference’ no, let’s do this now. There’s no reason why we can’t turn this around in two or three years at the most.”
Chief executive of Naz, Marion Wadibia, said: “The part of the visit that cannot be removed from memory is prior to Prince Harry meeting the choir. Four people were willing to go on camera, by the time he finished talking there were about eight or ten people around him.
“And that the weight of his presence challenging stigma, standing side by side with people living with HIV, really resonated and I think the choir felt he was very genuine and encouraging.
“And I’m thinking if in three or four minutes he can move four people to 10 to 12 people, with a concerted effort over the next two years we should really be challenging HIV stigma in a way that’s not happened before.”
Before leaving, choir singer, Charity Nyirenda pinned an AIDS ribbon she’d made to his shirt. This isn’t the first event Prince Harry has attended to help banish the stigma associated with HIV/AIDS. He attended a conference in South Africa, where he warned about the ‘threat of complacency’ related to AIDS at the international conference there. He also took an HIV test live on Facebook while at a health clinic. The Prince also visited the Mildmay HIV hospital in east London.