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Prince Harry, Rihanna Get HIV Tests to Help End Stigma

During the UK's Prince Harry's 15-day tour of the Caribbean, he stopped in Barbados, the former British colony that achieved independence 50 years ago, to catch up with Rihanna.

Read More: Massive HIV Vaccine Study in S. Africa Could Be 'Nail in Coffin' for Virus

The visit coincided with World AIDS Day, and the pair decided to use their star power for good: they received HIV tests to remove the stigma that surrounds the disease in too many parts of the world.

Barbados is a success story when it comes to AIDS. The country is on track the eliminate the threat of the disease by 2030 and have already eliminated mother-to-son transmission. This achievement is thanks largely to advocacy and an atmosphere of openness. People who might have the disease get tested and those with AIDS do not feel ashamed to share their status. In fact, the country has reached the important testing threshold of 90-90-90, with 92% of the people with AIDS in the country aware of their condition.  

Read More: The Deadly, Rapid Rise of HIV

The world has made tremendous progress against HIV since its arrival on the global stage in 1981. Since then, 78 million people have contracted the disease and 35 million have died from AIDS-related causes. Today, a person with AIDS can live a normal life if they get the right treatment. But now everyone has access to medicine and for global progress to continue, everyone, even those unaffected by the disease, have to stand up and demand that governments mobilize the necessary resources to contain the spread. 

As Prince Harry and Rihanna showed yesterday, Barbados' attitude of openness and persistence is critical to defeating AIDS, a disease that often proliferates silently and that can quickly overwhelm a population.