The fifth in line to the throne broadcast the test via Facebook Live; sexual health campaigners say they have seen a spike in requests for testing kits
The Prince – the youngest son of Prince Charles and the fifth in line to the throne – took the test at the Burrell Street Sexual Health Clinic in London, part of Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust.
The health worker who tested Prince Harry was Robert Palmer, Advisor and Specialist Psychotherapist. Writing for this week’s Boyz magazine, Palmer has spoken exclusively about the experience of testing the Prince.
He says that after Harry met with consultants and patients in the HIV unit, his decision to have an instant HIV test was ‘the unexpected part of the visit.’
‘It was a remarkable moment, being the first time a member of the Royal Family had undertaken such a procedure publicly, but also because it was to be broadcast live by Facebook and the BBC,’ he says.
‘After a brief consultation, the process was explained and the test performed, and demonstrated how simple and effective testing can be.
‘Just a finger-prick and a very small amount of blood, which, after being added to a solution and dropped into a small well, shows an immediate indicative result.
‘There was the same rather anxious moment waiting for the test result, as anyone who takes the test usually experiences. This was no doubt compounded by the fact that the world was watching the test take place.
‘With a negative result given, Prince Harry reminded everyone of the importance of early testing, the effectiveness of HIV treatment and that, whoever you may be, if you are unsure of your HIV status, then it is vital to find out.’
Prince Harry’s test leads to spike in request for testing kits
Earlier this week, the Terrence Higgins Trust (THT), the UK’s largest sexual health charity, said it had seen a big spike in orders for its home-testing HIV kit following media reporting of Harry’s test.
At the time of Harry’s test, THT was conducting a two-week pilot scheme and sending out free kits on a first-come, first-served basis. It says it was sending out around 32 home-testing kits a day, but this multiplied five-fold for a 48-hour period after Harry decided to broadcast his own test.
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.’
According to figures from the THT, around 103,700 people are living with HIV in the UK and 6,000 people are diagnosed every year. Of these, 17% are undiagnosed and do not know about their HIV infection.
Just over half of those infected with HIV each year are men who have sex with men.