Prince Harry and Rihanna took live HIV tests together this morning in Barbados. The British royal and the Diamond singer – who have met in the star’s home nation this week – took them as part of the World AIDS Day at the Man Aware event in Bridgetown.
They are finger prick tests which produce results in 20 minutes, and it comes after Harry took the same test live on Facebook and in front of the cameras in London in July, and was negative.
Harry spoke of the importance of HIV testing and warned that the world is becoming “complacent” about the once fatal disease. The Prince expressed his concerns to a doctor specialising in infectious diseases during a visit to a hospital in Barbados.
“Do you know what you’re doing?” Harry had asked the counsellor who performed the test when she was giving him counselling before the procedure. He then winced as she stuck the pin prick in.
When Rihanna had the same thing done to her seconds later, she laughed. She said: “You made it seem like it hurts. It’s not as painful as you said this morning.”
Harry, 32, persuaded the 28-year-old Barbadian superstar to take the test in public with her today when the pair chatted together back stage for 15 minutes after the Prince delivered a speech at the 50th anniversary celebrations of Barbados’ independence at the Kensington Oval cricket ground in Bridgetown last night.
“She was very happy to do it. She has had people in her life that she has known who have died from AIDS. She said this is important and she wanted to do this.
“She has tens of millions of followers on social media alone. Her people are confident that she can reach a billion people through social media.”
The pair urged Rihanna’s manager Jay Brown to join them but in vain. “You’re laughing now…” Rihanna said. “Come and sit here”. Harry, joined in. “There’s a spare seat. Anyone else want to come and join us?” he asked, looking around the assembled journalists.
While they waited for their results, the pair spent the next 20 minutes touring stalls set up in the centre of the capital Bridgetown to promote the Man Aware campaign, urging men in Barbados to get tested.
Aids workers worry that many Caribbean men, as in Britain, are unaware that they are carrying the HIV virus and ruin their chances of continuing a healthy life because they refuse to get tested early due to the stigma surrounding the illness.
Harry and Rihanna stopped at a makeshift barber shop set up in a small marquee, where one was having a shave. Fabian Sargeant, another HIV counsellor and social worker, explained that a barber shop was a perfect place to raise awareness of the need for HIV testing because it was where people discussed sex, friendship, and what was going on in their lives.
“I need to go to a barber shop!” Rihanna said to laughter. “Not for sex!” she added quickly, wagging her finger and laughing.
Harry interjected: “Everybody tells their hairdresser everything.”