Prince Harry, this week, has continued the work his late mother, Diana, Princess of Wales to try and reduce the stigma of HIV/AIDS. This was the main topic of discussion during a visit to Kings College Hospital in South London, and Harry was keen to be brought up to date on how the disease was being diagnosed, and treated. He also appears to have picked up some information on the matter from his trips to the United States this year.
The Prince was welcomed at the hospital, Thursday morning, by Nick Moberly, Chief Executive of Kings College Hospital. He then sat down for a round-table discussion with research experts and front-line staff. He asked a number of questions including how many people diagnosed with HIV/AIDS had not told their partners. “Loads” was the reply, even though as they confirmed there was little chance of passing on the disease once treatment has started.
He was told that the “biggest challenge” facing the medical teams was that of the 108,000 people living with HIV in the United Kingdom, only 81,000 were receiving treatment. This meant that 24% are undiagnosed, and of the 6,000 who are diagnosed every year, nearly half 2,500 are in London.
The Prince said: “Something needs to change. Some people need to be reminded that this is very much – especially in London now that the numbers are going up – this is very much an issue that a lot of people look at.
“I’m not trying to scare people but … they have a responsibility – with a relationship or with people that you love – that actually you owe it to yourself and you owe it to them just to get tested. “
Prince Harry then asked that if he was an ordinary Joe public, how would he go about being tested. He was told people should search SH24 or sexual health 24 hours on Google. The Prince said his main aim was to reduce stigma connected with the disease. In the same way as in the 1980’s Princess Diana had calmly sat and held the hand of a patient who had AIDs. At the time many thought it could be transferred just by casual contact with a victim.
The Prince also enquired of the experts about PrEP, a drug he may have heard of whilst in Miami. In the United States, it is used to prevent people at risk from developing the virus. He was advised it was not currently licenced for use but where it has been used it has proved to be extremely cost effective and it has significantly reduced the risk of transmission.
There was also hilarity when after being shown a badge which said “Keep Calm and test for HIV”, the Prince replied: “There is nothing Keep Calm doesn’t work for”.