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Interview

“There’s no shame in it,” Princess Stephanie on HIV stigma

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Princess Stéphanie on set at Monaco Info – © Communication Department / Frédéric Nebinger

In a special programme on Monaco Info, Princess Stéphanie answered a number of questions about her unwavering commitment to the fight against AIDS. 

Princess Stéphanie has been helping and supporting people with HIV for 20 years now through her charity, Fight Aids Monaco.

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She spoke to Monaco Info ahead of the charity’s traditional summer gala: “We still need to be there for people who live with this disease because they used to be like everyone else, with a job, with a life. And because they were honest and announced they were HIV positive, they lost everything.”

© Communication Department / Frédéric Nebinger

Leaving solitude behind

Throughout her years as president of the charity, Princess Stéphanie has learned about the difficulties faced by HIV-positive people, with loneliness at the top of the list. “People who are living with HIV are afraid to tell anyone, so they isolate themselves and are alone with their secret,”  says Princess Stéphanie. She went on to explain the importance of providing activities throughout the year:  “We put them in touch with other people who are going through the same thing as them, who have the same lives day to day, because we can help them to a certain extent with compassion, love and by listening, but we can’t know exactly what they are feeling and what they are going through.”

In particular, she mentioned the ‘maison de vie’ (care home, literally ‘house of life’), which was built 14 years ago “so that the people who go there can find renewed confidence in life, in THEIR life, so we can give them their life back, really.”

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Beating the epidemic through screening

While protection is essential, it is equally important to get tested regularly to find out whether or not you are infected with the virus. Especially since “the TROD (diagnostic test) is no big deal, a prick of the finger and it’s over […]. It’s not hard now, all the labs do it. It’s anonymous and free and it’s a responsibility towards society,” explains Princess Stéphanie. “Plus the treatments are a lot less burdensome, with fewer drugs, and the main thing is if you get the right treatment early enough, you no longer pass the disease on, so we have the solution,”  she added.