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Britain's Prince Harry and his fiancee Meghan Markle pose for photographers during a photocall in the grounds of Kensington Palace in London, Monday Nov. 27, 2017. (AP Photo/Matt Dunham)
Health

Prince Harry, Meghan Markle Are Spreading Awareness on World AIDS Day

By now you’ve probably heard the news: Henry Charles Albert David, better known as Prince Harry of Wales, has become engaged to American actress Meghan Markle.

Great Scott!

The pair announced the engagement on November 27, and just days later they made their first royal outing as an engaged couple to a series of events hosted in honor of World AIDS Day.

Prince Harry’s mother Diana was a fierce advocate for HIV/AIDS awareness; she famously changed attitudes about the disease when she publicly took the hand of a patient in front of television cameras. Her intent was to break down the misconception that the disease could be spread by touch.

The fight against HIV/AIDS still remains one of the most important battles of our time. Despite progress, the World Health Organization (WHO) recently reported that 2016 saw the highest rate of infection ever across Europe, affecting 160,000 people in 53 countries.

Take Action: It’s Time to Deliver on the Promise of Universal Health Coverage

Now, it seems Princess Diana’s son and future daughter-in-law are intent on continuing her legacy of activism surrounding the devastating illness. The couple attended a charity fair in Nottingham aimed at increasing HIV/AIDS awareness on 2017 World Aids Day, though this was not Harry’s first foray into advocacy surrounding the issue.

On World Aids Day last year, Prince Harry and Global Citizen pop-icon Rihanna visited Barbados where they publically took HIV tests to demonstrate the ease of finger pricking procedure. Earlier in 2017, Harry accepted a posthumous award on behalf of his mother’s work to raise awareness of HIV/AIDS. In a speech he made that night, the prince suggested his mother would have continued to battle for widespread testing and decreased stigma.

“She would be demanding that same access to treatment and testing for young people in Africa and across the world,” he said. “She would, of course, be standing alongside those who are living openly as healthy, happy and HIV-positive.”

The WHO estimated that approximately 36.7 million people were living with HIV at the end of 2016. The organization also estimated that only slightly over half of that population was actively receiving antiretroviral treatment for the illness.

Speaking to a crowd with his new fiance, Prince Harry emphasized the importance of routine testing for HIV/AIDS, and the continued push to eliminate the immune disease all together.

Read More: 5 Reasons Why We Need to Keep Funding the Fight Against HIV/AIDS

“We mustn’t be complacent. We’ve got everything here: all the equipment, all the testing ability,” he said. “We owe it to this generation to be able to eradicate this once and for all.”