In a bid to gain renewed awareness of the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), His Royal Highness Prince Harry asks people who may be infected with the disease to get tested. In his plea, he also reveals that his main goal is to "smash the stigma" surrounding HIV/AIDS.
After visiting the King's College Hospital's HIV service on July 7, Thursday morning, the young prince shared that his priority is to raise HIV awareness and that he was quite "shocked" when he learned that the HIV infection rate in the United Kingdom is rising. During this visit, he reaffirmed his commitment to the cause among the nurses and doctors who were there during his visit.
"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," said Prince Harry.
He added that he is not trying to scare people. He stressed that people have a responsibility in their relationship or with the people they love and that they owe it to themselves and these people to get tested for HIV/AIDS.
During his visit, he asked tthe hospital how many HIV/AIDS patients have not shared their diagnosis with their partners. Collectively, the staff present during the visit said "loads" of patients have kept it to themselves.
The hospital staff went on to say that once the patient undergoes treatment, there is a slim chance that the virus will be passed on. During his visit, he asked the staff what he needed to do if he was a member of the general public, an "average Joe," who wishes to be tested.
The hospital staff said that he should do a Google search for "SH24," which stands for "Sexual Health 24 Hours."
During his visit at King's College Hospital, Prince Harry was met by the hospital's chief executive, Nick Moberly. They proceeded to a round-table discussion about HIV/AIDS. During the meeting, he was told that around 108,000 people in the UK are living with HIV. Among these patients, 81,000 are receiving treatment. About 24 percent of the cases remain undiagnosed.
The young royal is following the footsteps of his late mother, Diana, Princess of Wales, who also helped raise awareness of the HIV/AIDS issue. Princess Diana was the first Royal Family member to have contact with an HIV/AIDS patient in the 1980s.
During this time, the general public still believed that the virus could be transferred by casual skin contact. It was during this time when Diana sat on the sick man's bed and held his hand.