HIV was a cause close to Princess Diana's heart. She really empathised with people living with HIV and did a lot to raise awareness and challenge the stigma associated with HIV, particularly in the early days of the UK epidemic.
NAT was one of Diana's favourite charities and she supported us for many years. She was Patron of NAT from 1991 until her untimely death in 1997 - and by that time we were one of only six charities she formally supported.
When HIV first emerged there was great fear and panic and people with HIV were often rejected by friends and family, and ostracised by society. Princess Diana was drawn to people she felt were not treated fairly and did not receive the support they deserved. She understood that people living with HIV were desperately in need of understanding and support and that is why HIV was a cause she supported so passionately.
She knew that her public profile meant any cause she supported would receive enormous public attention and recognition. For this reason, she chose to support causes which were not considered popular and glamorous – as she knew it was these causes she could make a major difference to.
Making a difference
Princess Diana worked tirelessly both in front of the cameras and behind the scenes to support people living with HIV and to change society's attitude to HIV – whether visiting HIV positive people in hospital, opening wards, attending conferences and events or supporting fundraising initiatives.
Princess Diana's commitment and dedication to raising the profile of HIV helped challenge the stigma of the virus. She often publically wore a red ribbon and was the first prominent public figure in the UK to be pictured holding the hand of a person with AIDS in his hospital bed. This iconic image was seen by millions all over the world and had an amazing effect in challenging attitudes towards people living with HIV and breaking down stigma and misconceptions.
On World AIDS Day in 1993 and 1994 Princess Diana organised a Concert for Hope at Wembley Arena to raise awareness of HIV and money for NAT. Artists who performed at these special event included Take That, George Michael, Mick Hucknall, k.d Lang and David Bowie.
Charisma and compassion
Princess Diana had a very personal touch. She was at ease meeting people from any background, regardless of whether they were ill or in a hospice. People warmed to Princess Diana’s energy for life and heartfelt empathy. Part of her appeal was her charisma and natural compassion – she could empathise with people’s pain and experiences and she touched the lives of many people with HIV who she had contact with.
Keep Diana's legacy alive
Princess Diana's tragic and untimely death was a significant blow in the fight against HIV in the UK. Without her dedicated and high profile support for the cause, HIV has lost a lot of its public profile and support – and no-one has stepped into her shoes in terms of championing the rights of HIV positive people and keeping HIV in the UK in the media spotlight.
NAT continues Princess Diana's legacy in the UK by working to increase HIV awareness and understanding, to end HIV-related stigma and discrimination and to make tackling HIV in the UK a priority for both the government and the public.
Recognising how important HIV and NAT were to their mother, Prince William and Prince Harry chose NAT as one of the small number of charities to benefit from the Concert for Diana held in 2007, 10 years after her death.