Over two million people watched as the U.K.'s Prince Harry (the late Princess Diana's youngest son) appeared on Facebook Live earlier this year to show how easy, quick, and painless it is to get tested for HIV — and to support the Terrence Higgins Trust, the largest non-profit organization supporting people living with HIV in Europe. Since then orders of the rapid HIV test have increased 5,000 percent.
“It’s so important that we continue looking for new ways to make HIV testing more accessible to those most at risk,” Dr. Michael Brady, the medical director for the Terrence Higgins Trust, told reporters. “[That’s] why it’s fantastic to see the very tangible and immediate impact of Prince Harry’s support for HIV testing.”
A similar impact was seen in the U.S. when Charlie Sheen came out as HIV-positive, demonstrating the power of celebrities to raise awareness among the general public. The Charlie Sheen effect didn’t just bring about an increase in testing. It also caused a huge increase in HIV reporting. A study conducted by Seth Noar of the University of North Carolina School of Media, and published in JAMA Internal Medicine, an American Medical Association journal, discovered that Sheen’s disclosure caused a 265 percent increase in news reports mentioning HIV (97 percent of which also mentioned Sheen).
Let’s hope more celebrities will follow in the royal footsteps, publicly getting tested and calling on fans to know their status.
Watch Prince Harry's HIV testing video below: