Showing how simple it can be, Prince Harry took an HIV test at a London clinic Thursday morning – and broadcast the event live on Facebook.
The royal sat for the test and got his results back in just a minute – it was negative.
Harry took the test to help “de-stigmatize” the issue and to show how easy it is to be checked.
And for Harry, who underwent the finger-prick test at the Burrell Street Sexual Health Centre in London and broadcast it on the royal family’s Facebook page, it was still a tense moment.
The prince, who was talked through it by Robert Palmer, a psycho-sexual counselor, confessed to being “nervous.”
“Even being the person I am and knowing the type of people I’m around, I’m still nervous. Which is interesting,” he said.
Told to relax as he was given the test, he then said, “Weirdly, that didn’t even hurt.”
As he waited for the results to come through – a single blue dot for negative, and two spots for a positive result – he asked Palmer, “What’s the biggest fear for people who come in?”
Palmer said it was the “not knowing. It’s our job to let people know about their help and make sure we keep people well and healthy.”
When he was told his result was non-reactive, the prince quickly switched gears and said, for the sake of those watching “back home,” that he appreciated it as a “life-changing moment.”[facebook url="https://www.facebook.com/TheBritishMonarchy/videos/1171588732862955/" /]
“If you’re a man, woman, gay, straight, black, white, whatever – even ginger – why wouldn’t you come and have a test?” the prince added.
Last week, on a visit to another London hospital, he spoke about his desire to smash the stigma about being tested.
“Once you’ve got people through the door – that’s the hardest bit out of the way,” he said Thursday.
Next week, Harry heads to South Africa to take part in the worldwide conference on HIV and AIDS in Durban.
Those close to the prince point out that while many strides have been made against the disease, there are those, especially among the younger generation, who mistakenly think that the battle has been won. It is hoped that Harry, who has passionately said how he wants to follow in the footsteps of his late mother Princess Diana in tackling issues like HIV and AIDS, will be a new beacon on the issue for younger people around the world.
And HIV rates in the U.K. continue to rise despite years of progress in treating the illness. One of the biggest factors has been that up to 17 percent of HIV positive patients are unaware of their status and so can unintentionally pass on the virus to partners.
Around the world there is an estimated 17 million people are unaware that they have HIV. Late diagnosis also means people not getting early treatment to enable them to lead healthy lives.
Ian Green, Chief Executive of Terrence Higgins Trust, said in a statement, “Prince Harry s decision to take an HIV test, live on social media, is a groundbreaking moment in the fight against HIV.
“Not only does it show His Royal Highness s genuine and personal commitment to tackling the HIV epidemic, it will amplify a message to millions all over the world: testing for HIV is easy, quick and nothing to be feared.
“We have a real opportunity to end HIV transmissions in the U.K., but it starts with each person knowing their HIV status. Too many people are either put off testing by the stigma that still surrounds HIV, or simply do not think HIV is an issue anymore. Today, Prince Harry has got people talking about HIV again and has normalised HIV testing to a global audience. In doing so, he could inspire a generation to take control of their sexual health.
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“Thanks to treatment, testing for HIV could stop you from getting seriously ill, enable you to live a normal lifespan and prevent you from passing the virus on to anyone else. That s why it s so invaluable to have Prince Harry s support as we aim to bust stigma and end the HIV epidemic.”
After administering the test, Palmer said, “He was anxious and I think I was as nervous as he was! It is an unusual experience to have a prince sitting in your chair.
“But Prince Harry doing this shows it is a test for everyone. It doesn’t matter who you are, it is such a small intervention that anyone can do it and it can save lives.”