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The Princess Who Changed Perceptions

Written by: George Chittenden : 27 Dec 2019

This beautiful photo was taken on April 25th, 1991 at the Hospital Universidade in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. The image features Princess Diana shaking hands with an aids patient without wearing gloves, breaking the misconceptions and stigma surrounding interactions with people with HIV and AIDS. It’s easy to forget how the public perceived HIV and AIDS in the 1980’s and 1990’s. As early as 1983, CDC scientists had concluded that the disease could not be transmitted through casual contact, but the public were still terrified.

Who better to take away those fears than a member of royalty, and Diana used her public platform to challenge those irrational fears. That journey began on April 19th, 1987 when she arrived at the London Middlesex Hospital and shook the hand of an AIDS patient without wearing gloves. It’s easy to think, big deal, but it really was. Her humanitarian work didn't begin or end with that handshake either, she was a president or patron of more than 100 different charities working across a range of important issues. History remembers her as "the people's princess", and it’s a nickname she earned.

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