Back in July, at the Burrell Street Centre, when Prince Harry took an HIV test live on Facebook, the live streamed event was watched by over 2 million people. The royal took the test to show how easy it is to be tested. Since then, the demand for at-home HIV test kits has risen 500%.
Campaigners have praised Prince Harry’s actions because they’ve helped not only raise awareness about HIV but helped to do away with the stigmas surrounding the virus. He has been compared by many to his late mother, Diana, Princess of Wales. Out of the 110,000 of those living with HIV, 17% don’t know they have the illness.
Prince Harry is very familiar with HIV and AIDS. He’s spent time in Africa with Sentebale, the charity he co-founded in Lesotho. A source close to the Prince said: “He has learned a lot about HIV over the last ten years working in Lesotho.” They added that Harry is very committed to sticking with this work.
The clinical lead for sexual health at the Burrell Street Centre, Dr Anatole Menon-Johansson said: “Prince Harry’s visit had a hugely positive impact. Not only have we had more people asking for the test but we’ve had less resistance to it. One private provider of home testing kits saw a five-fold increase in online orders,” of the impact Prince Harry’s live test has had on not only their clinic but those coming in to be tested.
Harry didn’t initially intend on taking an HIV test live for all the world to see: “Harry initially came to us to discuss his African charity Sentebale, which helps the victims of Lesotho’s HIV/AIDS epidemic.
He spoke of the Prince’s courage to be tested but to also broadcast it live: “Then we started telling him all about one minute test, and he agreed to do it. It was a brave move, even to be tested, but to then broadcast it on Facebook Live was truly groundbreaking.
“If a Prince can take the test, why not you? Testing is quick, easy and puts you in control.”
Ian Green, Chief Executive of Terrence Higgins Trust, said: “It did remind me of his late mother, Princess Diana. She hugged people with AIDS, shook their hands and broke down barriers. We need more people in the limelight like Harry to start these conversations.”
He continued by explaining how things haven’t changed much in 30 plus years where the illness is concerned and the attitudes of people. Despite all the medical advances, those infected in the UK is at an all-time high; with many not knowing they are.
“Myths, fear and stigma continue to perpetuate the epidemic in the UK.
“People still avoid getting tested for fear of the result, or simply because they don’t think HIV is an issue anymore – this causes alarming rates of late diagnosis and means one in six people with HIV don’t know they have it.
“Stigma and complacency risk undoing decades of progress.”
When Prince Harry took the test: “It showed the world that an HIV test is nothing to be feared or ashamed of,” said Dr Anatole Menon-Johansson. He called the Prince’s actions a “turning point.”
He said, “If you get a positive result, you can get onto treatment that enables you to live a normal healthy life, and prevents you from passing on the virus.”
Prince Harry will mark World AIDS Day on 1 December while in Barbados. He will lead a discussion about HIV with the youth there. Earlier this month, Elton John helped Harry campaign about HIV. The singer/songwriter also had high praise for the royal. Elton John said, “People love him because he has his mother’s ability to communicate so brilliantly on a very, very humble level and that’s what she had.
“[Diana] had that ability to walk into a room and make people feel very at ease and he does that too.
“[Harry’s] great because he appeals to young people. I’m a little old, so I can’t get through to the people that he can get to.
“We need more people like that to get through to young people because infections among young people are growing, not falling.”