Tag Archives: PRINCE HARRY

The Truth About HIV

WATCH: Thursday BBC1 at 9pm

HIV has claimed around 35 million lives worldwide. But now, as Dr Chris van Tulleken reveals, cutting-edge science can keep the virus at bay or even prevent infection altogether. As a new preventative treatment called PrEP is rolled out on the NHS in Scotland, and new trials are announced in England and Wales, HIV is under control, in Britain at least, but only when it can be detected and the treatment with antiretroviral drugs (ARVs) can begin.

Chris meets a woman whose husband died without ever knowing he had the condition, by which time he had infected her too. But Chris also finds out how ‘viral loads’ can now be reduced to allow patients to lead healthy lives – and even prevent them infecting anyone else.

Chris meets HRH Prince Harry for an interview at the Mildmay Hospital, an HIV hospital made famous by Diana, Princess of Wales, where Chris also meets a patient whose undetected HIV led to serious brain damage.

Prince Harry visited LASS in March this year, during his visit he took time to reflect on the changes for people living with HIV and unveiled a plaque marking the start of LASS’s 30th year. He was able to look at the history of LASS and viewed the panels that were launched by Princess Diana when she visited LASS in 1991.

HRH Prince Harry unveils a unveiled a plaque marking the start of LASS’s 30th year. With Evernice Tirivanhu, Jenny Hand & David Rowlands

Partner organisations joined LASS in a training session led by Juliet Kisob and Sadiya Mohamed.  They looked at the role of community HIV testing in encouraging people to know their HIV status and to help reduce late diagnosis.  They were joined by Prince Harry for workshops where they used a case study to look at how critical partnerships are to breaking down stigma and to identify new places for LASS to test in our 30th year. In Leicester 59% of patients are diagnosed late, which is 20% higher than the national average.

In the BBC documentary, airing on Thursday evening,  Dr van Tulleken visits a clinic in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa, where tens of thousands are still dying with seven out of ten of people infected worldwide living in sub-Saharan Africa,

He meets an schoolgirl living with HIV and realises that local attitudes to testing are still leading to unnecessary deaths. But Chris also meets clinicians taking mass testing out to the villages and meets a man whose life was saved as a result.

Back in the UK, talk of a cure may be premature, but Chris finds out more about the controversy around the rollout of PrEP which, when taken daily, can prevent someone becoming infected in the first place.

Why Take a HIV Test?

Some people think taking a HIV testing is scary, but honestly it shouldn’t be. The condition is entirely manageable.  If you test positive, early detection, monitoring and effective treatment means that your life can largely carry on as before.

Incredible medical progress has been made in the last 20 years and HIV treatment is now very effective. If you are diagnosed with HIV before it has damaged your body and you are put on effective treatment, you can expect to live as long as anyone else.

HIV treatment aims to lower the amount of HIV in the body to undetectable levels. Global research, known as the PARTNER study, has found that HIV cannot be passed on when the virus is undetectable. In other words, if someone is on effective HIV treatment, it is extremely unlikely that he or she will pass on HIV to anyone else.

This is a massive breakthrough. It means that if everyone with HIV were on effective treatment, we could finally stop the spread of HIV. Until then, it is essential to use condoms to protect yourself.

There are many ways you can test for HIV, you can visit LASS for a free, confidential rapid HIV test, you can sample your own blood/saliva and send it to a laboratory for the results which are then sent back to you (free) or you may wish to purchase a test which gives you a diagnosis in the comfort in your own home.  More information on HIV testing at LASS, at home, elsewhere in Leicester/shire and testing locations around the UK are available online here: http://www.lass.org.uk/hiv-testing/

 

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Thank You to HRH Prince Harry & LASS Partner Organisations

HRH Prince Harry with Salma Ravat & Nadine Coogan (Photo: Tom Robson @tjrfoto)

Partner organisations joined LASS in a training session led by Juliet Kisob and Sadiya Mohamed.  They looked at the role of community HIV testing in encouraging people to know their HIV status and to help reduce late diagnosis.

CEO Jenny Hand introduces HRH Prince Harry to Sadiya Mohamed & Juliet Kisob. (Photo: Tom Robson @tjrfoto)

They were joined by HRH Prince Harry for workshops where they used a case study to look at how critical partnerships are to breaking down stigma and to identify new places for LASS to test in our 30th year. In Leicester 59% of patients are diagnosed late, which is 20% higher than the national average.

HRH Prince Harry unveils a unveiled a plaque marking the start of LASS’s 30th year. With Evernice Tirivanhu, Jenny Hand & David Rowlands (Photo/Animation: Tom Robson @tjrfoto)

Prince Harry unveiled a plaque marking his visit and 30 years of LASS. He invited trustee Evernice Tirivanhu to assist him She said: “It’s quite a special day for us.
“People living with HIV have to fight a lot of stigma, and to find that members of the royal family are willing to come and support the charity is very encouraging.”
Prince Harry’s visit came as the National AIDS Trust reported “an alarming trend for cutting or completely decommissioning HIV support services across England and Wales”.

LASS has been absolutely delighted to welcome partner organisations yesterday.  By working together we demonstrate unity within the voluntary sector and strengthen the approach of social care, support and advocacy across Leicester, Leicestershire, Rutland and the East Midlands.

You can find coverage of Prince Harry’s visit to LASS, and other Leicester Projects from the following news outlets.  Photographs from the training session are in the gallery below.

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Prince Harry to Visit LASS & Other Leicester Projects

Prince Harry will travel to Leicester on Tuesday 21st March to visit three local projects; Yes You Can, Leicestershire Aids Support Service (LASS) and the Pink Lizard. His Royal Highness will see how the Yes You Can and Pink Lizard programmes engage with and empower young people from the local communities, and how LASS, which this year is celebrating its 30th birthday, provides vital support to those who are living with or affected by HIV.

Prince Harry will firstly visit the Yes You Can project at Hamilton Community College. The 20 week personal development programme, which is delivered by Kainé Management and operates within seven secondary schools around Leicestershire, uses peer mentors between the ages of 16 and 25 to inspire and meet the needs of Year 8 pupils who are underperforming by overcoming barriers to learning, raising aspirations, and helping to close attainment gaps for at risk groups. The project also has a strand – the ‘I Have A Dream’ programme – which empowers primary school children to be resilient in achieving their dreams as they transition to secondary school. Prince Harry will meet mentors and children from the two programmes at Hamilton College, and hear more about how the project has helped the young people to turn their lives around and reach their goals.

His Royal Highness will then travel to LASS, the HIV charity for Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland. LASS provides information, advice, support and advocacy services  for people who are living with or affected by HIV, and also raises HIV awareness through training and workshops. The charity, which Diana, Princess of Wales, visited in 1991, also works in partnership with other local agencies to challenge the stigma and discrimination faced by people living with HIV. On arrival Prince Harry will join a discussion with LASS service users affected by HIV, and attend a training session with the charity’s partner organisations to examine how they can support people affected by HIV to lead happy, healthy lives. His Royal Highness will then meet service users and volunteers over lunch in the LASS canteen, before unveiling a commemorative plaque to mark the charity’s 30th birthday.

Prince Harry will lastly visit the Pink Lizard, a youth and community organisation based in the Saffron Lane estate in Leicester. The organisation’s main aim is to support young people living in deprived communities by developing and delivering learning opportunities which are uplifting, interesting and fun. It uses sport to build confidence, tackle negative behaviour patterns, and help get young people back into education, training or employment. Pink Lizard has been supported by the sport for development charity Sported for a number of years, as part of the membership organisation’s ongoing commitment to strengthen grassroots community groups across the UK.  Prince Harry will meet a number of young people from the local community taking part in a sports training session at the Southfields Drive Sports Centre, and will hear how Pink Lizard’s programmes and services have helped these young people to develop essential skills for career progression.

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Hetrosexual? – HIV Testing is for YOU too!

Prince Harry should be commended for taking an HIV finger-prick test live at a sexual health centre, part of Guy’s and St Thomas’s hospital in London. If the results of such a test were positive, the patient’s blood would be sent for further testing. Harry’s test (negative – or you’d probably already have heard about it, or never heard about it, as the case may be) was done to raise awareness about the number of people in Britain who are unaware that they’re HIV-positive (estimated at 11,000).

Article via 
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For those who are old enough, it would have sparked memories of his mother, Diana, reaching out to people, back at a time when many still feared that the “gay plague” could be spread via the merest contact.

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Princess Diana visited LASS in November 1991. Her visit launched the ‘Famous Friends of LASS’ initiative, with over 60 celebrities signing up to offer their voice and support for people living with HIV.

Now, we have Harry, continuing her work, and what a prince indeed: a red-blooded royal hottie!  While William completes his metamorphosis into a staple husband and future King.  Harry gets the playboy prince role. It was fitting that the royal poster boy for rampant heterosexuality should take the blood test, to drive it home that thinking of HIV as a “gay disease” is a dangerous mistake that, even today, in 2016, many straight people make.

Too many heterosexuals still seem stuck in a kind of finger-crossing/wistful thinking zone, or suspended in blissful oblivion about the possibilities of HIV infection. It’s a complicated fog of stupidity, denial and inept fear-management that I recognise only too well from my own experience, years ago, when I took my first HIV test.

(Article via Barbara Ellen at The Guardian)

I recall going to a clinic quite nonchalantly (probably making some smug pompous point about being sensible – perhaps expecting a medal), and then becoming increasingly unnerved as the counsellor and I totted up what I shall delicately refer to as my “risk factors” (I’ll spare you the gory details). At which point, it felt as though it would be a blessed miracle if I wasn’t infected.

To say it was stressful waiting for the results (and for the results of the confirmation test later) is an understatement. I ended up ringing the Terrence Higgins Trust hotline, bothering the kind volunteers (brilliant, by the way) with my relentless paranoid chuntering, which was embarrassing enough at the time. Years later, my shame intensified when I came to know people who were HIV-positive, and handling it with a lot more grace.

Looking back, it was a classic case of belated hetero-panic, doubtless aggravated by not taking the threat seriously enough in the first place.

I can’t help but wonder whether this is what a lot of straight people are still like about HIV and Aids – a bit thick, blinkered and naive (just like I was, strutting into that clinic)?

It seems odd that, from the initial peak-hysteria of HIV/Aids (hospital staff in biohazard suits, Aids adverts full of nightmarish crashing tombstones), the heterosexual mindset so swiftly segued into the blandly mainstream conviction that HIV had little to do with them – the exact kind of attitude that sees heterosexual people ranking among those prone to seeking out HIV tests and treatment late.

I’m not saying that heterosexual HIV-infection is special or that gay HIV-positive people are a more standardised group. Nor do I mean to ignore those infected by non-sexual means.

The point, as Prince Harry said, is for everybody to be tested. However, another point is that these tests, horribly daunting for everybody, may still verge on alien for people who’ve been deluding themselves that they aren’t at risk. That’s why it made so much sense for the heterosexual – perhaps this time more important than his being a prince – Harry to be shown taking that test.

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Harry to take on Princess Diana’s cause by making fight against HIV a priority.

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Prince Harry is to follow in the footsteps of his mother Diana, Princess of Wales and make the fight against HIV a major part of his public work.

Harry is to speak at an international Aids conference in South Africa next month and will carry out other high profile events including meeting doctors and nurses caring for HIV-positive patients in South London and visit an innovative sexual health service.

His decision has been welcomed by HIV charities and organisations who have said his involvement with the issue will help shine a spotlight on the “epidemic” of people contracting the virus.

Diana was the first member of the royal family to have contact with a person living with HIV.  In the late 1980s when many still believed the disease could be contracted through casual contact, she sat on the sickbed of a man with Aids and held his hand.

Princess Diana and Barbara Bush Above meeting people with HIV/AIDS at an AIDS clinic at Middlesex Hospital in 1991.

Both publicly and privately she supported the work of those helping patients, with late-night trips to east London’s Mildmay HIV hospice.

1991_princess_diana

Princess Diana visited LASS in November 1991 and is deeply impressed by our work. Her visit is used to launch the ‘Famous Friends of LASS’ initiative, with over 60 celebrities signing up to offer their voice and support for people living with HIV.

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Harry’s charity Sentebale already focuses on supporting HIV positive young people in the African nation of Lesotho but the prince now aims to spread the message to his generation that the fight against HIV has not yet been won, Kensington Palace has said.

The Prince hopes to convene leading figures in this sector and support their vital work in ensuring that everyone – and young people in particular – get the help they deserve, his office added.

Diana was the NAT’s patron from 1991 until her death in 1997, supporting the policy and campaigning organisation which attempts to inform opinion.

Deborah Gold, the organisation’s chief executive, said: “I think the focus on HIV in the UK has moved but it continues to be an issue with rising numbers every year – getting attention on that gets more and more difficult.

“I think Prince Harry really focuses on that and will help to draw attention to that. It’s something he genuinely cares about and his charity Sentebale has been work with this for 10 years.”

She described the numbers of people contracting the virus as an epidemic, with the latest figures from Public Health England showing in 2014 there were an estimated 103,700 people living with the disease in the UK, with 17% of these not aware of their infection.

In 2014 almost 85,500 people were accessing HIV treatment and care, more than double the number (41,157) in 2004, and a 5% increase on 2013.

Ian Green, chief executive of the Terrence Higgins Trust, said: “We warmly welcome Prince Harry’s commitment to helping tackle the HIV epidemic here in the UK, and look forward to working with His Royal Highness to tackle stigma, increase testing and prevent HIV transmission.”

He added: “Incredible medical progress has been made in HIV treatment over the last 20 years, but attitudes and awareness of HIV haven’t kept up with these advances.

“The devastating impact of HIV stigma cannot be underestimated – it is a well known barrier stopping people getting tested and onto effective treatment, as people fear reactions from friends, family, colleagues and their community, should they test positive.”

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