Prince Harry teams up with Gareth Thomas to highlight importance of HIV tests

Prince Harry warmly embraced former Wales rugby star Gareth Thomas today as the pair joined forces to highlight the importance of being tested for HIV.

Harry and Thomas, who has HIV, are meeting players from the King’s Cross Steelers, who style themselves as the world’s first gay rugby club, and others from Premiership Rugby club Harlequins, to raise awareness about the issue.

Thomas was the highest-profile sportsman in the UK to reveal he was gay when he came out in 2009 and the ex-fullback, who captained both Wales and the British Lions, is thought to be the first UK sportsman to go public about living with HIV.

Harry and Thomas decided to work together after the royal texted the Welshman asking to chat a few days after he revealed his HIV status in a Twitter video. 

Harry shares a joke with former Wales rugby captain, Gareth Thomas (right) and Chris Robshaw of Harlequins (left) as he is presented with a Harlequins kit for son Archie

Harry shares a joke with former Wales rugby captain, Gareth Thomas (right) and Chris Robshaw of Harlequins (left) as he is presented with a Harlequins kit for son Archie

Harry shares a joke with former Wales rugby captain, Gareth Thomas (right) and Chris Robshaw of Harlequins (left) as he is presented with a Harlequins kit for son Archie

Both Prince Harry and his late mother Diana, Princess of Wales, have dedicated their lives to raising awareness of HIV and AIDS. Harry was today gifted a shirt for baby Archie

Both Prince Harry and his late mother Diana, Princess of Wales, have dedicated their lives to raising awareness of HIV and AIDS. Harry was today gifted a shirt for baby Archie

Both Prince Harry and his late mother Diana, Princess of Wales, have dedicated their lives to raising awareness of HIV and AIDS. Harry was today gifted a shirt for baby Archie 

The Duke of Sussex hugged former rugby player Gareth Thomas as he greeted him at the Twickenham Stoop in London

The Duke of Sussex hugged former rugby player Gareth Thomas as he greeted him at the Twickenham Stoop in London

The Duke of Sussex hugged former rugby player Gareth Thomas as he greeted him at the Twickenham Stoop in London

In recent interviews, Gareth Thomas said he was driven to suicidal thoughts as a result of his diagnosis

In recent interviews, Gareth Thomas said he was driven to suicidal thoughts as a result of his diagnosis

In recent interviews, Gareth Thomas said he was driven to suicidal thoughts as a result of his diagnosis

Harry and his brother the Duke of Cambridge have praised the Welshman for revealing he was HIV positive

Harry and his brother the Duke of Cambridge have praised the Welshman for revealing he was HIV positive

Harry and his brother the Duke of Cambridge have praised the Welshman for revealing he was HIV positive

The duke and the sportsman are meeting the club players at the Twickenham Stoop, home of Harlequins, ahead of National HIV Testing Week

The duke and the sportsman are meeting the club players at the Twickenham Stoop, home of Harlequins, ahead of National HIV Testing Week

The duke and the sportsman are meeting the club players at the Twickenham Stoop, home of Harlequins, ahead of National HIV Testing Week

In recent interviews he said he was driven to suicidal thoughts as a result of his diagnosis but Harry and his brother the Duke of Cambridge have praised the Welshman for revealing he was HIV positive. 

The duke and the sportsman are meeting the club players at the Twickenham Stoop, home of Harlequins, ahead of National HIV Testing Week, which will run from November 16 to 22. 

‘That’s why I’m thrilled to be joining the HIV Commission because I want to be a part of a positive change and play a role in driving us towards our goal where no-one else contracts HIV.’

Like his late mother Diana, Princess of Wales, Harry has dedicated his life to raising awareness and using his position to end the stigma surrounding HIV and AIDS.  

Thomas said Harry has ‘done so much to normalise HIV testing and fight the stigma across the globe’.

Harry and Thomas decided to work together after the royal texted the Welshman asking to chat a few days after he revealed his HIV status in a Twitter video

Harry and Thomas decided to work together after the royal texted the Welshman asking to chat a few days after he revealed his HIV status in a Twitter video

Harry and Thomas decided to work together after the royal texted the Welshman asking to chat a few days after he revealed his HIV status in a Twitter video

Thomas said Harry has 'done so much to normalise HIV testing and fight the stigma across the globe'

Thomas said Harry has 'done so much to normalise HIV testing and fight the stigma across the globe'

Thomas said Harry has ‘done so much to normalise HIV testing and fight the stigma across the globe’

The pair laughed and chatted as they strolled through the rugby grounds this morning

The pair laughed and chatted as they strolled through the rugby grounds this morning

The pair laughed and chatted as they strolled through the rugby grounds this morning 

The ex-fullback, who captained both Wales and the British Lions, is thought to be the first UK sportsman to go public about living with HIV

The ex-fullback, who captained both Wales and the British Lions, is thought to be the first UK sportsman to go public about living with HIV

The ex-fullback, who captained both Wales and the British Lions, is thought to be the first UK sportsman to go public about living with HIV

WHAT IS HIV? 

HIV (human immunodeficiency virus) is an incurable sexually-transmitted disease that attacks the immune system. If untreated, it completely destroys the immune system.

HOW MANY PEOPLE HAVE IT?

HIV has killed about 35 million people since the 1980s. Approximately 37million people in the world currently have it.

WHAT IS IT?

HIV is a virus that damages the cells in the immune system and weakens the ability to fight infections and disease.

Without treatment, HIV can turn into AIDS (acquired immune deficiency syndrome), which is a syndrome (or, a set of symptoms) not a virus.

In layman’s terms, AIDS has been referred to as ‘late-stage HIV’. A person has AIDS when their immune system is too weak to fight off infections. AIDS cannot be transmitted from one person to another; HIV can.

WHAT IS THE PROGNOSIS?

Those diagnosed with HIV need to be on medication for life to prevent it turning into AIDS, which is often fatal.

A decade ago, people who were HIV positive were given a shorter life expectancy because the medication, suppressing the immune system, made patients highly vulnerable to fatal infections.

Today, HIV drugs are much more sophisticated.

They allow for people who are HIV positive to live as long as anyone else in good health.

They can also suppress the viral load to such an extent that it is undetectable and untransmittable, meaning it’s possible to have intimate relationships without passing it on.

The former player has been named a member of the the HIV Commission, created by NAT (National AIDS Trust) and Terrence Higgins Trust. 

Thomas said of his appointment: ‘I spoke out about living with HIV, not for me but for all those people who are struggling and don’t have a platform.

‘For them, I want to do everything I can to challenge stigma and outdated views about HIV.

‘That’s why I’m thrilled to be joining the HIV Commission because I want to be a part of a positive change and play a role in driving us towards our goal where no-one else contracts HIV.’ 

Three years ago Prince Harry took a HIV test live on Facebook – sparking a five-fold increase in orders for HIV tests from Terrence Higgins Trust.

And last year, he called for HIV testing to be seen as ‘completely normal’ in a specially recorded message.

The Duke of Sussex said people should not be ashamed or embarrassed about taking a test for the lethal virus.

Instead, he said being tested for HIV should be treated in the same way as people protect against ‘viruses like cold and flu’.

In the two-minute video message, the young royal wore a red ribbon in solidarity with all those living with HIV. 

He said: ‘Taking an HIV test is something to be proud of – not something to be ashamed or embarrassed about.

‘As much as you protect yourself at this time of year from illnesses and viruses like cold and flu, you can also protect your health by taking an HIV test.’ 

Princess Diana famously helped reduce the stigma of AIDS sufferers in April 1987 when she shook hands with a gay man dying of the disease.

Back in the eighties, when the picture was taken at the London Middlesex Hospital, having AIDS was considered a death sentence’.

Prince Harry has long advocated for the importance of HIV testing both in the UK and around the world. When he tested for HIV live on Facebook two years ago, there was a five-fold increase in orders for HIV tests from Terrence Higgins Trust

Prince Harry has long advocated for the importance of HIV testing both in the UK and around the world. When he tested for HIV live on Facebook two years ago, there was a five-fold increase in orders for HIV tests from Terrence Higgins Trust

Prince Harry has long advocated for the importance of HIV testing both in the UK and around the world. When he tested for HIV live on Facebook two years ago, there was a five-fold increase in orders for HIV tests from Terrence Higgins Trust

The Terrence Higgins Trust, a voluntary sector provider of HIV and sexual health services, said the day after the Welshman’s announcement was the charity’s busiest since launching their HIV self-test kits. 

National HIV Testing Week will run from 16 to 22 November. 

It aims to increase awareness and acceptance of HIV testing by dispelling the stigma that surrounds the virus.  

This helps to improve early diagnosis and treatment of HIV, thus reducing onward transmission.

How Diana’s handshake with Aids patient changed world’s view of the disease

In April 1987, Princess Diana shook hands with a gay man who was dying of AIDS.

The People’s Princess touched the unnamed man without wearing gloves, challenging the previously believed notion the disease could be passed via skin-to-skin contact.

She was quoted as saying: ‘HIV does not make people dangerous to know. 

‘You can shake their hands and give them a hug. Heaven knows they need it’.

At the time, Princess Diana was opening the UK’s first unit that exclusively cared for HIV/AIDS patients at London Middlesex Hospital.

Princess Diana was famously the first member of the Royal Family to touch someone with AIDS. 

It is unclear if this picture is the first time she made physical contact with an HIV-infected patient.  

The People’s Princess would also regularly visit the Lighthouse, both with the media present and without.

According to Dr Rosemary Gillespie, chief executive of the HIV charity Terrence Higgins Trust: ‘London Lighthouse offered residential and day care for men, women and children living with HIV and AIDS, and provided a refuge and respite to people marginalised and abandoned because of their diagnosis’.

Princess Diana was a patron of the National AIDS Trust at the time of her death in 1997. 

Link hienalouca.com

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