International Women's Day - Princess Diana
On International Woman’s Day I would like to commemorate Diana, Princess of Wales. She had a unique way of connecting with people from all walks of life and an ability to influence people all over the world through her acts of kindness.
In April 1987, at the height of the Aids epidemic, she opened the UK’s first HIV/AIDs ward at London Middlesex Hospital.
One photographs taken that day showing the Princess shaking hands with a man who was HIV positive was shared around the world. She was the first high profile person who was prepared to touch a person with HIV without wearing gloves and doing so challenged the public perception at a time when it was widely believed that HIV could be passed from person to person by touch. Princess Diana’s actions were revolutionary in convincing the public that there was nothing to be afraid of.
Princess Diana fought for an end to HIV and AIDs-related stigma throughout her life and she became an official patron for the National AIDs Trust. At one of their events in 1993, she talked of the impact on mothers and children, further dispelling the myth that HIV and Aids was purely a problem for the gay community, she said: ‘For those mothers and children already living under the shadow of AIDS, we need to help them back into the light, to reassure them and support their needs. And maybe we will learn from them how to live our own lives more fully, for however long it may be.’
I will always remember Princess Diana for her warmth and compassion for the most vulnerable members of society and it is a credit to her that her sons have continued her good work. Prince Harry took a HIV test live on television on World Aids Day in 2016 to show how easy it was, and Prince William appeared on the cover of Attitude Magazine to discuss the mental health issues faced by victims of homophobia and transphobia.