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Prince Harry speaks out against ‘absurd’ lack of youth education on HIV and AIDS

Katharine Swindells July 11, 2017
Prince Harry at roundtable discussion on HIV and Aids in London

Prince Harry at roundtable discussion on HIV and Aids in London (STEFAN ROUSSEAU/AFP/Getty Images)

Prince Harry visited the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine yesterday for a roundtable discussion on HIV and AIDS.

He was joined by three youth advocates from Lesotho and Botswana, who spent the week in London speaking to global leaders.

The 32-year-old hit out on the lack of education on the disease.

Prince Harry at the discussion at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine
Prince Harry at the discussion at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (STEFAN ROUSSEAU/AFP/Getty Images)

“To me it is totally absurd that in today’s world that young people, the first time they know or the first time they hear anything about HIV and AIDS, is probably by the time it is too late,” he said.

The event was part of the ‘Let Youth Lead’ initiative of Prince Harry’s charity Sentebale, giving young people the platform to talk to their peers about HIV and drive change.

Harry co-founded the organisation in 2006 with Prince Seeiso of Lesotho. It aims to improve the lives of the thousands of children and young people affected by HIV/AIDS in Lesotho.

At the event Harry also saw a demonstration of an HIV self-testing kit which is being trialled in Malawi, and heard about Peek, an organisation that seeks to improve access to eyecare.

Related: World AIDS Day: Prince Harry and Rihanna take HIV tests to help tackle stigma

Harry said “education is power,” and was the key to overcoming stigma.

“HIV needs to be treated exactly the same as any other disease, and between us hopefully we can eradicate the stigma and give these young people an opportunity to stand up,” he said.

The advocates also paid a visit to Knightsbridge School in central London, to speak to children aged 12 to 14.

One of the advocates, Tloto, an 18-year-old girl from Botswana, said: “I decided to discuss my status so I can grant them courage, I can give hope to those who are hopeless.”

The other advocates were Ts’epang, 19, and Kananelo, a 22-year-old man, both from Lesotho. Ts’epang described the Prince as “so kind and loving”.

Harry’s work on HIV Aids continues the campaign of his mother, Princess Diana, who worked tirelessly on the issue throughout her life.

Related: Prince Harry in poignant visit to HIV charity which Princess Diana visited 26 years ago

As of December 2016, Sentebale had delivered HIV testing and counselling services to more than 21,000 people. The charity plans to have expanded into four or five sub-Saharan African countries by 2020.

More: AIDS, Charity, HIV, prince harry, Princess Diana, sentebale

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