(BBC) Prince Harry has urged people to “know your status” and “go and get a test” for HIV.
In a video with Welsh rugby legend Gareth Thomas, who lives with HIV, the Duke of Sussex said he wants to continue his mum’s “unfinished” work in removing the stigma around the virus.
The pair spoke in a video call to mark National HIV Testing Week.
They discussed how normalising HIV testing could help achieve the goal of ending new HIV cases in the UK by 2030.
Prince Harry’s comments come as figures show that for the first time in a decade, the number of new HIV diagnoses among heterosexuals is higher than for gay and bisexual men in England.
In 2020, 49% of new HIV diagnoses were in heterosexuals compared to 45% in gay and bisexual men, according to figures from the UK Health Security Agency.
Asked what made him so passionate about advocating over HIV, Prince Harry said: “Once you get to meet people and you see the suffering around the world, I certainly can’t turn my back on that.”
He also told Thomas he feels an “obligation” to continue Princess Diana’s aim to remove stigma surrounding the illness.
The late princess, who died in a car crash in 1997, changed the global view of HIV and Aids, raising awareness of the condition and supporting hospices.
When Prince Harry publicly took an HIV test alongside Rihanna in 2016, the broadcast contributed to a 500% increase in the number of people requesting a test on the Terrence Higgins Trust website.
But during the Covid pandemic, HIV testing has dropped by 30%.
Thomas said it “wouldn’t be scary if you understood” what living with HIV in 2022 is like.
Sharing his daily medical routine with Prince Harry, he said his alarm goes off at 6am every day.
“I take my HIV medication which is one tablet, and I feel that my day then begins.”
Thomas, who came out as the first openly gay rugby union player in 2009, said it was a daunting experience to walk into a sexual health clinic, but felt it was so much easier to test now, in the privacy of your own home, or at drop-in clinics.
“The sooner you find out if you’re positive then the sooner you can start treatment. If you leave it too late, then it can have circumstances that are irreplaceable, irreparable,” he added.