Prince Harry participated in a roundtable discussion on HIV education at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine on Monday.
“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,” Prince Harry said.
The event was part of the “Let Youth Lead” Initiative of Sentebale, the charity that Prince Harry, 32, co-founded with Prince Seeiso of Lesotho. Sentebale provides better medical care to HIV-positive, young people in Lesotho and Botswana.
At the event, Prince Harry introduced three AIDS activists from Botswana and Lesotho, who were in London to speak to world leaders about the AIDs crisis. The activists—Tlotlo Moilwa, Ts’epang Maboee and Kananelo Khalia—each shared their experiences with HIV, and discussed the importance of breaking the stigma associated with the condition.
“I decided to discuss my status so I can grant them courage, I can give hope to those who are hopeless.” said 18-year-old Tlotlo Moilwa, who lost both of her parents to AIDS.
The event also included information about Peek, an organization that works to increase access to better eye-care services in underserved areas, and the presentation of a new self-testing HIV kit that is being reviewed in Malawi. As of December 2016, Sentebale has provided HIV-related medical care to more than 21,000 adolescents.
"Between us, we can hopefully eradicate the stigma and give these young people the opportunity to stand and say 'I’ve lived it, I’ve breathed it and you know what? I’m going to make a difference because I don’t want anybody else my age to go through exactly what I went through'” Prince Harry said.
Prince Harry’s commitment to fighting the AIDS epidemic in Africa has drawn comparison to his mother Princess Diana’s humanitarian work. She, too, spoke about the need to destigmatize AIDS, and was also responsible for opening London’s Landmark AIDS Centre to help people diagnosed with the condition.