Prince Harry’s live HIV test leads to surge in people getting tested

A photo shows Prince Harry wearing a grey suit, white shirt and red and white tie

Prince Harry’s HIV testing plea led to a five-fold increase in people getting tested.

The fifth-in-line to the throne has focused more of his engagements around HIV in recent months, visiting a number of HIV clinics, attending the International AIDS Conference in South Africa, and speaking about his late mother’s work on the issue.

The Prince made headlines by taking a HIV test himself in a Facebook Live video earlier this month, in an appeal for more people to get tested.

According to one HIV charity the appeal has worked – with Terrence Higgins Trust reporting a five-fold surge in orders through its HIV self-testing scheme following the Prince’s appeal.

THT’s HIV self-testing pilot had targeted men who have sex with men and black African people in the UK, and was promoted through targeted social media and apps including Facebook, Twitter and Grindr.

The revolutionary BioSure self-tesing kits, provided free of charge through the pilot scheme, allow you to collect your own blood sample and get a result in just 15 minutes.

THT says that the scheme saw a 500% boost in the number of kits ordered on the days following Prince Harry’s intervention. 4,750 tests were distributed in total.

Dr Michael Brady, Medical Director for Terrence Higgins Trust, said: “We know that one in six people living with HIV do not know that they have it.

“Testing puts you in control and, thanks to treatment, will 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 important that we continue looking for new ways to make HIV testing more accessible to those most at risk, and why it’s fantastic to see the very tangible and immediate impact of Prince Harry’s support for HIV testing.”

The charity’s self-testing pilot also allowed it to reach demographics who would not usually get tested: of those who ordered tests, 1 in 5 people never had an HIV test before, while 38% had not done so in the past year.

Imraan Sathar, who took a self test during the pilot, said: “Most clinics are only open during working hours in the week and weekends are always super busy. The option to have a testing kit delivered to me and producing a result almost immediately is infinitely more convenient for me.”

Another user Chris agreed: “The HIV home tests came within a few days and I had my results no longer than 30 minutes after opening the package. The instructions were clear and understandable, with the online step-by-step video explaining even further. Nothing at all could be misunderstood.”

The self-testing kits usually cost  £29.95, but were provided free of charge during the pilot.

The charity says it will now use the results of the pilot to “understand how best to use this kind of HIV testing and to determine whether it is something that can be rolled out more widely and sustainably”.