Prince Harry teamed up with Elton John to speak at the launch of the MenStar Coalition – a new global initiative formed to combat the spread of HIV and AIDS. The $1.2 billion funded project aims to “expand the diagnoses and treatment of HIV infections in men, with the aim of ultimately ending the AIDS epidemic by 2030”.
Prince Harry warned the delegates gathered at the AIDS conference in Amsterdam, “The progress we have fought so hard for is at risk from a dangerous complacency. Too many around the world are still ignoring the damaging knock-on effects on education and other community services for not prioritising HIV prevention and treatment.”
Preparing for #AIDS2018 Plenary Session with @EltonOfficial – where The Duke and Sir Elton will launch the MenStar coalition, which will expand the diagnoses and treatment of HIV infections in men, with the aim of ultimately ending the AIDS epidemic by 2030. pic.twitter.com/sYnROYwpdS
— Kensington Palace (@KensingtonRoyal) July 24, 2018
Harry, whose mother Princess Diana was a hugely important figurehead in the fight against prejudice towards people with HIV and AIDS during the height of the crisis in the 1980’s, continued: “Inspired by the growing alarm of the rate of new HIV infections among young women, this campaign is bravely tackling the root of this problem — the lack of awareness of HIV prevention amongst hard-to-reach young men”.
Veteran campaigner Elton John discussed the aims of the MenStar Coalition: “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 and teach them to protect themselves, not only their wives and girlfriends, their sisters and daughters, but also critically their brothers and their sons. Young people are the only age group where HIV infections are rising, not falling.”
The coalition brings together the Elton John AIDS Foundation, the US Government’s PEPFAR programme, Johnson And Johnson, Gilead and the Bill And Melinda Gates Foundation to combat “the smashing of a deadly stigma” as statistics show that 24 to 35 year-old men are accessing HIV testing and treatment at shockingly low rates.
Closer to home, new HIV diagnoses in Ireland remain at their highest ever rate with Dr Paddy Mallon, head of the UCD School of Medicine’s HIV Molecular Research Group, calling Ireland’s climbing rate of diagnoses ‘a disgrace’.
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