East Of Eden

"A curious mix of the relevant and reverential"


Flashback Friday: Princess Diana visits AIDS patients.

PrincessDi1987

Princess Diana was photographed in April 1987 shaking hands, sans gloves, with an AIDS patient, demonstrating that the disease could not be transmitted via casual contact. (Getty Images/ Source)

 

Next month will mark 20 years since Princess Diana's sudden and tragic death in a Paris car crash. There have been numerous articles, magazine spreads and documentaries being released to mark the anniversary. This post, however, will go back 30 years, to Princess Diana's visit with AIDS patients, and her decision to touch them. This was huge; the story and the accompanying photographs would be published around the world. At that time, many people so feared the disease, they refused even casual contact with those infected. People with HIV and AIDS were viewed by many as dirty, degenerate, even cursed by God. Many of the earliest patients were gay men and/or IV drug users, and a shameful amount of people pondered if they deserved public sympathy... or even to be treated medically. 

This was the backdrop for Diana's visit. Supposedly, some in the House of Windsor were none too happy that the Princess chose such unhaqppy charity works. But, as would become clear in the following decade, Diana did what Diana wanted. Here's the UPI story from April 9th, 1987:

LONDON -- Princess Diana opened Britain's first AIDS hospital ward Thursday and shook hands with nine homosexual patients to 'explode' the myth that the disease can be passed through casual contact.

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