Welsh rugby star Gareth Thomas spoke with the Duke of Sussex about how his HIV diagnosis inspired him to live his life to the fullest and to educate others about the virus.
Harry and the former Wales captain spoke about the virus as part of a powerful new film released by the Terrence Higgins Trust to mark the National HIV Testing Week, which begins today.
In the video, shot on the newsstands of Twickenham Stoop – home of the Premiership Rugby Harlesquins, Thomas told Harry that the moment he received his HIV diagnosis was what inspired him to educate others about the reality of the virus.
Harry shared a joke with former Wales rugby captain Gareth Thomas (right) and Harlequins Chris Robshaw (left) when he was presented with a Harlequins kit for his son Archie on November 8.
Prince Harry and his late mother Diana, Princess of Wales, dedicated their lives to raising awareness of HIV and AIDS. Harry was presented today with a shirt for baby Archie
He said everyone should know their HIV status to & # 39; normalize the test & # 39; and make it easier for those who are afraid, who are afraid to introduce themselves.
Thomas, who became gay in 2009, is considered the first UK sportsman to make the virus public.
He told the duke that his knowledge of HIV was paralyzed in the 1980s and thought he had received a death sentence, but now he wants to show that there is life after a diagnosis of HIV.
Thomas added: 'We do a lot around our health – going to the dentist, going to the doctor. But when it comes to sexual health testing, there is the stigma and fear surrounding it.
"We need to re-educate people to know that where we are now with HIV is not a death sentence, it is not and I am living proof."
Prior to their meeting with the Duke, the Terrence Higgins Trust and National Aids Trust (NAT) charities announced Thomas as commissioner of the first HIV Commission of all time to close HIV transmission by 2030.
Thomas said, “I have a new purpose now. I want to do everything possible to remove the fear that people have about HIV testing and just do it.
“Since I had no education about HIV, I thought I was sentenced to death when I was diagnosed and I don't want anyone else to go through it.
"I take one pill a day that keeps me healthy, means I have absolutely no fear of transmitting HIV to my husband and means I'm fit enough to make an Ironman."
During the interview, the duke praised Thomas and said that what he was doing was "amazing".
He added, "I believe what you are doing, it's amazing."
The Duke of Sussex embraced former rugby player Gareth Thomas as he greeted him at Twickenham Stoop in London.
In recent interviews, Gareth Thomas said he was led to suicidal thoughts as a result of his diagnosis.
Harry and his brother, the Duke of Cambridge, praised the Welshman for revealing that he was HIV positive.
The duke and Thomas also discussed how the rugby community can help reduce stigma by inviting rugby players to be tested and knowing their status to help normalize HIV testing.
The Terrence Higgins Trust, the UK's leading HIV charity, paid tribute to the impact of the two men in challenging perceptions of HIV and combating stigma.
The charity said that after Thomas publicly revealed his HIV status in September, there was an increase in orders for his HIV test kits, reflecting a fivefold increase when Harry tested live on Facebook in 2016.
HIV testing has never been easier and can be done in many places, including sexual health clinics, GP surgeries and at home, he added.
New Public Health England statistics estimate that about one in 14 people living with HIV in the UK remains undiagnosed – while 43% of people diagnosed last year were diagnosed late, that is, after damage to the immune system had already begun. .
The charity said this is why HIV testing is so important because someone diagnosed early and accessing treatment – like Thomas – has the same life expectancy as anyone else.
Access to effective HIV treatment also ensures that the virus cannot be transmitted, he added.
Ian Green, chief executive of the Terrence Higgins Trust, said: “We are proud to bring together the Duke of Sussex and Gareth Thomas – two individuals who have done so much to challenge people's perceptions of HIV and address stigma.
“That's because when they talk about the reality of HIV, people listen and act.
"I hope that Duke and Gareth's work to normalize HIV testing will have a big impact during National HIV Test Week, and anyone who has been too afraid to get tested will find it always better to know."
The duke and the sportsman met the club players at Harlequins' Twickenham Stoop before National HIV Testing Week.
Harry and Thomas decided to work together after royalty sent a message to the Welsh asking to chat a few days after he revealed his HIV status in a Twitter video.
Thomas said Harry had done a lot to normalize HIV testing and fight stigma around the world.
The two laughed and chatted as they strolled through the rugby fields.
The former defender, captain of Wales and the British Lions, is thought to be the first sportsman in the UK to make public living with HIV.
WHAT IS HIV?
HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus) is an incurable sexually transmitted disease that attacks the immune system. If left untreated, it completely destroys the immune system.
HOW MANY PEOPLE ARE THERE?
HIV has killed about 35 million people since the 1980s. Today, about 37 million people worldwide have it.
WHAT IS IT?
HIV is a virus that damages the cells of the immune system and weakens the ability to fight infections and disease.
Without treatment, HIV can become AIDS (acquired immunodeficiency syndrome), which is a syndrome (or a set of symptoms) rather than a virus.
In layman's terms, AIDS has been referred to as 'advanced HIV'. A person has AIDS when their immune system is too weak to fight infections. AIDS cannot be transmitted from one person to another; HIV can.
WHAT IS THE PROGNOSTIC?
Those diagnosed with HIV need to take lifelong medication to prevent it from becoming AIDS, which is often fatal.
A decade ago, people who were HIV positive were given a shorter life expectancy because the drug, suppressing the immune system, made patients highly vulnerable to fatal infections.
Today, HIV drugs are much more sophisticated.
They allow people who are HIV positive to live as long as anyone in good health.
They can also suppress the viral load to such an extent that it is undetectable and non-transferable, meaning that it is possible to have close relationships without transmitting it.
The former player was named member of the HIV Commission, created by the National AIDS Trust (NAT) and Terrence Higgins Trust.
Thomas said of his appointment: “This is something I am incredibly honored to become an HIV commissioner with a group of people who plan to end zero new HIV transmissions in England in the next 10 years, and that is the first country in the world to do this.
& # 39; I have a small platform, I don't know how big it is, but I know I have a platform, and I understood why so many people live in fear, live in shame, because I lived in fear and lived in shame. ;
Three years ago, Prince Harry ran a live HIV test on Facebook – triggering a fivefold increase in Terrence Higgins Trust orders.
And last year, he asked for the HIV test to be seen as completely normal. in a specially recorded message.
The Duke of Sussex said people should not be ashamed or ashamed to get tested for the lethal virus.
Instead, he said getting tested for HIV should be treated the same way people protect against viruses like the cold and flu.
In the two-minute video message, the young royal king wore a red ribbon in solidarity with all living with HIV.
He said: 'Taking an HIV test is something to be proud of – not something to be ashamed of or ashamed of.
"As much as you protect yourself this time of year from diseases and viruses like cold and flu, you can also protect your health by taking an HIV test."
Princess Diana helped reduce the stigma of AIDS sufferers in April 1987, when she shook hands with a gay man dying of the disease.
In the 1980s, when the picture was taken at London Middlesex Hospital, having AIDS was considered a death sentence.
Prince Harry has long defended the importance of HIV testing in the UK and around the world. When he tested HIV live on Facebook two years ago, there was a fivefold increase in Terrence Higgins Trust HIV testing requests
The Terrence Higgins Trust, a voluntary provider of HIV and sexual health services, said the day after the Welsh announcement was the busiest of the charity since the launch of its self-test kits.
National HIV Testing Week will take place from 16 to 22 November.
The goal is to increase awareness and acceptance of HIV testing, dispelling the stigma surrounding the virus.
This helps improve early diagnosis and treatment of HIV by reducing subsequent transmission.
How Diana's Handshake with AIDS Patient Changed World View of AIDS
In April 1987, Princess Diana shook the hand of a gay man dying of AIDS.
The People's Princess touched the unnamed man without gloves, defying the previously believed notion that the disease could be transmitted through skin-to-skin contact.
She was quoted saying: “HIV does not make people dangerous to know.
You can shake their hands and give them a hug. Heaven knows they need to.
At the time, Princess Diana was opening the first UK unit that exclusively cared for HIV / AIDS patients at London Middlesex Hospital.
Princess Diana was famous for the first Royal Family member to touch someone with AIDS.
It is not clear if this is the first time she has made physical contact with an HIV-infected patient.
The people's princess also regularly visited the lighthouse, with the media present and without her.
According to Dr. Rosemary Gillespie, Executive Director of the HIV Terrence Higgins Trust Charity: London Lighthouse provided residential and day care for men, women and children living with HIV and AIDS, and provided a refuge and respite. to marginalized and abandoned people because of their diagnosis.
Princess Diana was a patron of the National AIDS Trust at the time of her death in 1997.