Prince Harry's Live HIV Test Has Had an Impact on Sexual Health

July 29th 2016

Tricia Tongco

The royal family is used to living under a microscope, but earlier this month, Prince Harry did something on camera that was unprecedented — he got tested for HIV.

His visit to Guys and St. Thomas’ Hospital in London was broadcast live on Facebook in order to de-stigmatize the test and to demonstrate how simple and painless it is.

Shortly after the livestream, the Terrence Higgins Trust, a U.K. sexual health services provider, announced in a statement that orders for their free, at-home HIV tests increased by five times in response to Prince Harry's video.

Prince Harry is live from Guys and St. Thomas' Hospital on The Royal Family's Facebook page now, showing how easy it is to get tested for HIV.

Posted by The Royal Family on Thursday, July 14, 2016

"[On] Thursday and Friday of the same week, this surged five-fold to 150 per day after Prince Harry decided to take an instant HIV test live on Facebook to normalise testing, in what Terrence Higgins Trust described as a ‘groundbreaking moment in the fight against HIV."

The Trust’s innovative pilot program offered free BioSure tests on a first-come, first-serve basis so that people could “find out their HIV status privately — in their own space, in their own time, on their terms” — in less than 15 minutes.

Raising such awareness is important. According the the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, more than one in eight Americans infected with HIV don’t know that they have it. Plus, research has shown that early detection can help people manage the virus and protect their health.

The reason why people don’t get tested is a mixture of fear, ignorance, and perceived stigma — and not only on the part of potential patients. According to the CDC, the top reason why both men and women in the U.S. do not get tested is because they didn't think they were at risk.

The CDC reports that, after fear of finding out they were infected with HIV, lack of time, not knowing where to get tested, and lack of money or health insurance were other major reasons people reported not getting tested.

While patients might not feel comfortable asking for the test, health care providers might also be at fault.

According to the Journal of the International AIDS Society, the three main causes of perceived HIV stigma in health facilities are "a lack of awareness among health workers of what stigma looks like and why it is damaging; fear of casual contact stemming from incomplete knowledge about HIV transmission; and the association of HIV with improper or immoral behaviour."

Additionally, while the CDC started recommending HIV testing as a routine test in 2006, many doctors are not aware of this update.

Considering the convenience, simplicity, affordability and benefit of the test, Prince Harry asked a question that seems to have resonated with many people:

“So whether you’re a man, woman, gay, straight, black, white, whatever, even ginger, why wouldn’t you come and have a test?”

[h/t HuffPost]