Prince Harry: get tested for HIV to protect others in same way as for Covid

<span>Photograph: Steve Parsons/PA</span>
Photograph: Steve Parsons/PA

The Duke of Sussex has urged people to “know your status” and get tested for HIV, saying he hopes to carry on his mother’s work to help eradicate stigma and misunderstanding surrounding the virus.

He told former Welsh rugby captain Gareth Thomas, who lives with HIV, that there had been a huge change with people openly talking about the condition in the 35 years after his mother, Diana, Princess of Wales, opened the first Aids unit at Middlesex hospital in London. But more must be done to make progress towards the UK goal of ending new HIV cases by 2030, he added.

In a video conversation released online to mark National HIV Testing Week, Harry said he had been influenced by the suffering caused by the virus during visits to Lesotho and Botswana. “Add in the fact that my mum’s work was unfinished, I feel obligated to try and continue that as much as possible. I can never fill her shoes, especially in this particular space, what she did, what she stood for and how vocal she was on this issue,” he said.

When Harry took an HIV test in 2016, the live broadcast contributed to a 500% increase in the number of people requesting a test on the Terrence Higgins Trust website.

He said: “Every single one of us has a duty, or at least an opportunity, to get tested ourselves to make it easier for everybody else to get tested.” Noting there had been a drop in HIV testing during Covid, he added that with people regularly testing for coronavirus, it should be “ingrained in us that that’s what we need to do, to know our status in order to be able to keep other people safe”.

Thomas, who disclosed his HIV status in 2019, has since launched Tackle HIV alongside ViiV Healthcare in 2020 to educate people about the virus. He said, though people may be daunted taking a test for fear of a positive result, “it wouldn’t be scary if you understood what living with HIV in 2022 is”.

His own diagnosis had given him “an appreciation of life”. “I take a moment at 6am … I take my HIV medication which is one tablet, and I feel that my day then begins. I’m very active, I go to the gym, I work as hard as I possibly can, and I think with that appreciation of life comes this sense of not being selfish,” he said.

A condition he “thought would be a life ending condition, it’s actually turned into being a life affirming condition”, he said.

Free HIV test kits to do at home can be ordered from