Prince Harry warns of ‘dangerous complacency’ in fight against HIV
Prince Harry has warned that the world is “at risk from a dangerous complacency” when it comes to HIV.
Speaking at the launch of his and Sir Elton John’s new charitable group today (July 24) at the International AIDS Conference in Amsterdam, The Prince called on everyone to join them in the “smashing of a deadly stigma.”
The MenStar Coalition is a conglomerate of groups, including the Elton John AIDS Foundation, the US Government’s PEPFAR programme, Johnson & Johnson, Gilead and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
Its first project will involve launching a new HIV self-testing campaign aimed at young men in Kenya.
The Prince, who is also at the Amsterdam conference as the Patron of HIV charity Sentebale, paid tribute to Sir Elton – who performed at his and Meghan Markle’s wedding in May – during his speech to the event’s 15,000 delegates.
“I am honoured to be sharing the stage with someone who has always put people at the center of his work, Sir Elton John,” he said, according to AFP.
“For over a quarter-century, Elton has worked tirelessly to fund research and services in communities around the world.
“And today, he has come to Amsterdam to announce his latest endeavor, a billion-dollar global partnership to break the cycle of male transmission of HIV, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa.”
“The progress we have fought so hard for is at risk from a dangerous complacency,” he said.
“Too many around the world are still ignoring the damaging knock-on effects on education and other community services for not prioritising HIV prevention and treatment.”
The MenStar Coalition was primed to perform “the tough but essential work of truly changing mindsets,” the Prince added.
“Inspired by the growing alarm of the rate of new HIV infections among young women, this campaign is bravely tackling the root of this problem – the lack of awareness of HIV prevention amongst hard-to-reach young men,” he said.
The Prince, who is sixth in line for the throne, called on everyone to destroy the “deadly stigma” of HIV and come together around the aim of “calling out the prejudice that is still there.”
Sir Elton, who last year marked 25 years of his foundation with a New York gala, told the delegates: “Young people are the only age group where HIV infections are rising, not falling.
“We have to do much, much more to bring men, especially younger men more fully into the fold,” he continued.
“Much work has been done to protect women and girls but “we can’t solve the whole problem if we are only addressing half the situation.
“If we want to win this fight, if we want to end AIDS once and for all, we must make men part of the solution,” Sir Elton added.
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The music legend said men must be taught to protect “not only their wives and girlfriends, their sisters, and daughters, but also critically their brothers and their sons.”
Eurovision Song Contest winner Conchita Wurst opened the conference this morning, after revealing earlier this year that they were HIV-positive.
The star said it was time to “end the cruel stigma and discrimination” which comes with HIV, telling the crowd that “we cannot stop talking about it until everyone knows that being HIV-positive is just a diagnosis.”
Wurst added: “We deserve to live in a world free of HIV.”