Prince Harry.   Picture: SUNDAY TIMES
Prince Harry. Picture: SUNDAY TIMES

THE world faces a new risk in the battle against HIV/AIDS: complacency.

This is according to Prince Harry‚ co-founder and patron of the Lesotho-based Sentebale foundation that supports and treats children who have the disease.

"As people with HIV live longer‚ AIDS is a topic that has drifted from the headlines. We cannot lose a sense of urgency‚" said Prince Harry during the 21st International AIDS Conference in Durban on Thursday.

He said he was inspired to get involved in the fight against AIDS after a visit to Lesotho in 2004. More than 21,000 young people in Lesotho are HIV-positive‚ and the country has the second highest HIV prevalence rate in the world after SA.

"It is all too common for a 12-year-old to be forced to go to work to provide for their brothers and sisters‚ having lost one or both parents to AIDS. It is time for a new generation of leaders to step forward. We need to step up and make sure no young person feels any shame in asking for an HIV test. It is time for us to step up and make sure that girls and boys with HIV aren’t kept from playing with their friends‚ classmates and neighbours.

"We cannot defeat HIV without giving young people in every country the voice they deserve. Without education and empowerment‚ HIV would win. But imagine what would happen ... if children were given the tools to protect their health‚ to speak out against stigma‚ and support their friends and family. In helping young people to fight HIV‚ not just end this epidemic‚ but change the direction of history for an entire generation‚" he said.

TMG Digital