Thanks to activists and leaders “like my mother, Princess Diana” great progress has been made, he told the crowd.
“When my mother held the hand of a man dying of AIDS in an East London hospital, no one would have imagined that just over a quarter of a century later treatment would exist that could see HIV-positive people live full, healthy, loving lives,” he continued.
“But we now face a new risk – the risk of complacency. As people with HIV live longer, AIDS is a topic that has drifted from the headlines. And with that drift of attention, we risk a real drift of funding and of action to beat the virus.
• Want to keep up with the latest royals coverage? Click here to subscribe to the Royals Newsletter.
“So it is time for a new generation of leaders to step forward. It is time for us to step up to make sure no young person feels any shame in asking for an HIV test. It is time for us to step up to make sure that girls and boys with HIV aren’t kept from playing with their friends, classmates, and neighbors. It is time for us to step up and acknowledge that stigma and discrimination still act as the greatest barrier to us defeating this disease once and for all.”
Harry was also joined by AIDS activist Elton John to address the delegates. The duo hosted a session focused on how the disease affects young people.
Last week, the singer took to Instagram to praise Harry for taking an HIV test live on video,
“Prince Harry gave that stigma a knock on the head by showing the world how easy and simple it is to take an HIV test,” he wrote. “Bravo Prince Harry! Your mother would be so proud of you.”
Harry’s work countering HIV and AIDS is a major part of his public work. At the conference, he also shared the stage with his good friend Prince Seeiso of Lesotho, with whom he set up the kids’ charity Sentebale to help those orphaned by AIDS in the mountainous kingdom.
What’s Next for Prince Harry?
“At the time of the first International AIDS conference, HIV was a death sentence,” Harry told the delegates. “Stigma kept HIV positive people from talking openly about their condition and kept vulnerable people from having the courage to step into a clinic and ask for a test.”
Earlier in the day, Harry and Elton John added their names to a wall of signatures, run by the UNAIDS group called the #ProTESTHIV wall. Signing in red ink, Harry wrote in block letters, “GET TESTED! WHY WOULDN’T YOU?”