For World AIDS Day, Prince Harry is thanking leading health experts on behalf of his mother, Princess Diana.
In a letter addressed to World Health Organization Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus and UNAIDS Executive Director Winnie Byanyima, the prince expressed gratitude to the scientific and medical community for fighting against the disease, a cause that was close to the late Princess of Wales’s heart.
“On this World AIDS Day we recognise the 40 years that have shaped life for many,” the Duke of Sussex wrote. “We honour those whose lives have been cut short and reaffirm our commitment to a scientific community that has worked tirelessly against this disease. My mother would be deeply grateful for everything you stand for and have accomplished. We all share that gratitude, so thank you.”
In the mid-1980s, a global outbreak of HIV and AIDS created a hysteria that stigmatized those who suffered from the illnesses. Diana challenged the myth that the disease could be spread through skin-to-skin contact, often being photographed shaking hands or hugging infected patients. She also opened the United Kingdom’s first HIV/AIDS unit at London Middlesex Hospital in 1987.
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Harry drew a parallel between “the world’s leading AIDS activists” and the rising call for global COVID-19 vaccine equity, an issue that he and his wife, Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, have previously spoke out on.
“Vaccinating the world is a test of our moral character and we are experiencing a spectacular failure when it comes to global vaccine equity. Similar to the AIDS crisis, we’ve yet again revealed over the past year, that the value of life depends on whether you were born and/or live in a rich nation, or a developing country,” he wrote. “Now more than ever, the voiceless majority of the world needs to be heard, and the onus is on our leaders to end this pandemic. Anything less is self-defeating.”
The duke continued to call on medical experts and leaders to fight for vaccine equity. “That means breaking pharma monopolies that prevent vaccines from getting to communities around the world in need; that means Governments honoring their promises and delivering the doses that they committed; that means pursuing international pandemic agreements with strict timelines and holding each other accountable to them; that means treating all human lives as equal lives,” he wrote.
At Global Citizen Live in New York City this past September, Harry and Meghan gave a passionate speech about distributing the COVID-19 vaccine as a “basic human right.”
“Every single person on this planet has a fundamental right to get this vaccine. That’s the point. But that’s not happening,” the duchess said at the time. “And while in this country and many others you can go almost anywhere and get vaccinated, billions of people around the world cannot.”
This article originally appeared on Harper’s BAZAAR US.
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