In an attempt to destigmatise what for some is a frightening
test, the Prince attended London’s Guy’s and St Thomas’
Hospital on Thursday morning and broadcast the whole event.
“It only takes about a minute to do,” the doctor told him,
explaining that the rapid-result pin-prick test gives a strong
indication whether the result is positive or negative almost
immediately, but, if positive, needs to be sent to the lab to
Harry, whose mother, Princess Diana, famously championed people
with HIV, said that “even though I’m not from this part of
London or being the person I am … I’m still nervous”. He then
asked what most people’s biggest fear around the test is.
“The fear is not knowing, more than anything else,” the doctor
said, before adding that knowing one’s HIV status is “very
important” and “if you feel you’ve put yourself at risk, have a
test.” Within a few seconds, the blood had been taken.
“It’s amazing how quick it is,” said Harry. “Some blood tests
you have to wait.”
“This one you can know straight away,” said the doctor. “The
relief some people feel … They can feel much better straight
away.” And with that the result was in: negative.
Prince Harry was keen to stress, however, that even if it had
been positive, the prognosis in 2016 is very promising. The
doctor added further reassurance that when someone is diagnosed
they can still enjoy a “good, healthy sex life” and that people
live “long and healthy lives”.
vast study confirmed what doctors have known for several
years: that when an HIV person takes anti-retroviral medication
properly, adhering to the medication regime, it reduces the
amount of virus in the blood to such minuscule (or
“undetectable”) level as to make it – effectively – impossible
to pass on the virus, even during unprotected sex.
Prince Harry concluded: “Whether you’re a man, woman, gay,
straight, black, white, whatever – even gingers! – why wouldn’t
you come and have a test?”
The head of Britain’s biggest HIV charity, the Terence Higgins
Trust, hailed Prince Harry’s decision as an important step
towards reducing stigma.
“Prince Harry’s decision to take an HIV test, live on social
media, is a groundbreaking moment in the fight against HIV,”
said CEO Ian Green.
“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.”
Green added: “We have a real opportunity to end HIV
transmissions in the UK, 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 any more. 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.
“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.”