The Duke of Sussex is carrying on his mother’s – Princess Diana – legacy on the issue of the AIDS epidemic. The Duke has been a longtime public advocate of providing resources, expanding education and inciting policy change in the ongoing fight against HIV and AIDS.
In taking his advocacy a step further, he has joined forces with Sir Elton John to announce the launch of the MenStar coalition during a plenary session at the 2018 International AIDS Conference in Amsterdam on Tuesday.
The coalition is aimed at expanding the diagnoses and treatment of HIV infections in men with the goal of ultimately ending the AIDS epidemic by 2030. The coalition will support and fund innovative approaches to delivering effective HIV/AIDS services for men, including aiming to increase earlier uptake of testing and treatment.
Speaking during the session, Prince Harry explained what the coalition intends to achieve.
“Inspired by the growing alarm at the rate of new HIV infections among young women, the MenStar coalition is bravely tackling the root cause of this problem—the lack of awareness of HIV prevention amongst hard-to-reach young men.”
“And it will be guided by listening to and respecting the voices of the young men the coalition is trying to reach.”
Sir Elton John explained further. “We cannot solve the whole problem if we’re only addressing half the situation”
“If we want to win this fight, if we want to end AIDS once and for all, we must make men part of the solution.”
The coalition was founded by Elton John AIDS Foundation, the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, Unitaid, the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, the Children’s Investment Fund Foundation, Johnson & Johnson and Gilead Sciences.
Harry congratulated the foundation and urged they work together to achieve their aim.
“I would like to congratulate the Elton John AIDS Foundation on convening this impressive coalition with major financial backing.”
“I am a firm believer that we must work together across agencies, charities, and industries to make change at scale.”
Always looking to embolden other voices, the royal sat down with Sentebale’s Let Youth Lead advocates, the charity he co-founded in 2006, on Monday. The Let Youth Lead program aims to provide young people with a platform to voice the challenges of living with HIV and those affected in sub-Saharan Africa, where the charity is based, with the hopes of driving policymakers to better affect change for newer generations.
While addressing the advocates on Monday, the Prince had this to say: “Young people are being listened to, but it’s still very much a box-ticking exercise.
“Policy change does not happen without the people that are going to end up inheriting this planet and inheriting their country and inheriting these problems as well.”
Prince Harry’s contribution in fighting the AIDS epidemic suggests he’s following in the footsteps of his mother. Princess Diana famously became the first royal figure to have contact with an AIDS patient in the 1980s. As a staunch supporter of AIDS patients, the Princess of Wales hugged and held hands with patients without gloves to diminish the stigmas connected to those suffering from the virus.
His ties to the Grammy Award winner, with whom he spoke with at the 2016 International AIDS Conference, further bring Diana’s legacy full-circle as she and Elton John were close friends and fellow advocates in the fight.