1 Dec 2014

Prince Harry: ‘No one should feel shame about their secrets’

Prince Harry lures celebrities including Nicole Sherzinger, Ricky Hatton and Paloma Faith to “spill a secret”, encouraging Aids sufferers to speak out and seek support on World Aids Day.

More than 30 years after the first diagnoses of Aids, there is still a stigma around HIV. Now campaigners fear it has fostered a “culture of silence” that is hampering efforts to halt the epidemic and inflicting further misery on millions of Aids sufferers all over the world.

In a new campaign marking World Aids Day, stars including singer Nicole Scherzinger, actress Gemma Arterton and boxer Ricky Hatton hope to do their bit to help tackle the stigma. The #FeelNoShame campaign – spearheaded by Prince Harry’s charity Sentebale – encourages people to come forward and share a personal secret in the hope that others will do the same.

Kicking off the campaign exclusively for Channel 4 News above is The Royle Family’s Ricky Tomlinson, Bond actress Gemma Arterton and comedian Steve Furst.

Other stars will release videos later today on the campaign’s microsite, including the prince’s own secret.

‘Deadly culture of silence’

Of course, the secrets of the rich and famous seem somewhat trivial in comparison to the plight of Aids sufferers, but the cause is a vital one. Despite great medical advances and global awareness of Aids higher than at any point in the last 40 years, there is still an alarming lack of awareness around the specifics of HIV.

Figures released today by the National Aids Trust (NAT) reveal less than half (45 per cent) of the British public understand how HIV is and is not transmitted. The charity warns that there is “pervasive lack of understanding” which could even be be fuelling the epidemic in the UK, with 6,000 new diagnoses last year.

And the problem is rife in other parts of the world. Take, for example, Lesotho, where Sentebale is focused. The southern African country has the third highest HIV rates on earth, behind Swaziland and Botswana. More than 37,000 of Lesotho’s 500,000 children are thought to be HIV positive, and around 200,000 have lost parents to Aids, forcing them out of school into trafficking or prostitution. Since 1996, the country’s average life expectancy has fallen from 59 years to below 48.7 years.

Deborah Gold, chief executive of the National Aids Trust, said: “Lack of understanding leads to stigma and discrimination towards people living with HIV. This is taking us straight back to the early 1980s – and this time we don’t have the excuse of not knowing better.”

Prince Harry said: “We are turning this World Aids Day into a day in which no one should feel any shame about their secrets. Together, we can tackle the stigma surrounding HIV and give the young people carrying it the childhood they deserve.”

The #feelnoshame campaign was created pro-bono by CHI&Partners, and videos will be released in the course of World Aids Day under Twitter hashtag #feelnoshame.

Belows Prince Harry explains exclusively for Channel 4 News why he is spearheading the campaign.