If Princess Diana were still alive, her son Prince Harry believes she’d be “standing alongside” people who had been diagnosed as HIV positive.
The prince made the remarks at the Attitude magazine awards, where his mother was posthumously honoured with the Legacy award on the 20th anniversary of her tragic death.
Accepting the award on his mother’s behalf, Harry reminded that it was 30 years ago that Princess Diana opened the UK’s first purpose-built HIV/AIDS unit at London Middlesex Hospital, which exclusively cared for AIDS patients, back in 1987.
This was when she shook the hands of a patient, without wearing gloves, in order to reduce the stigma of the illness at a time when many still thought the virus could be passed from person to person via contact, resulting in a photo of powerful impact.
“She knew that AIDS was one of the things that many wanted to ignore and seemed like a hopeless challenge,” said Harry at the ceremony, reports BBC News.
“She knew that the misunderstanding of this relatively new disease was creating a dangerous situation when mixed with homophobia,” added the prince.
“So, when, that April [in 1987], she took the hand of a 32-year-old man with HIV, in front of the cameras, she knew exactly what she was doing.”
Harry added that he and his brother, Prince William, are “incredibly proud of what our mother achieved,” adding that if she were still alive she “would be demanding” free HIV testing worldwide.
“I believe that she would be telling everyone across society — not just those most at risk — that with effective treatment being free and available in the UK, that we must all embrace regular testing, both for our own sake and for those that we love,” he said.