Prince Harry Took an HIV Test Live on Facebook!

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As usual, Prince Harry (or as we like to call him in our house, “the best of the lot of them”) is out and about doing what he does best; showing-up his brother in the performing of royal philanthropic duties. Harry averages about three public appearances a week, which is a far bigger number than that of his elder brother and sister-in-law.

This week, Harry upped the ante by supporting a cause in a way that no royal has ever done before; he got tested for HIV live on the internet. According to The Guardian, Prince Handsome Ginger Snap reported to the Guy’s and St. Thomas’s Hospital Burrell Street Center to undergo one of the newer rapid HIV tests. The test is done with a simple finger prick, and five minutes later, you have your result. His was negative, for your information, thanks very much.

The Guardian had this to say about how Harry handled himself during the test.

Before the test, the prince admitted he was nervous, saying: “Even being the person I am and knowing the type of people I’m around, I’m still nervous.”

He had to wait a few moments while the sample was mixed with chemicals and poured into a test tray where a developing solution was added. The negative result was indicated by a blue spot in the tray – if two spots had appeared he would have needed further tests to confirm whether he was HIV positive.

As he waited for the result to appear, Robert Palmer, a health adviser and psychosexual counselor who carried out the procedure, asked him: “Are you all right?” and Harry replied: “I’m OK.”

Palmer said afterwards: “He was anxious, he said so, but everything was alright in the end.”

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Harry choosing the Burrell Street Center is significant because it covers a few boroughs of London that have some of the highest rates of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) in the whole of England. In fact, The Guardian in this same story goes on to report that there are approximately 11,000 people in the UK that are unaware that they have HIV, 103,700 who are living with HIV (as of 2014), and the numbers of people seeking treatment for HIV has doubled since 2004. Let’s hope that Harry’s live feed will go a long way to encouraging even more people to get tested.

Of course, campaigning for HIV awareness sort of runs in Harry’s bloodline. His mother, HRH Diana, Princess of Wales was a stalwart HIV/AIDS activist, and was even photographed shaking hands with an HIV positive man in 1987, at the height of the aids epidemic. While now that seems like not such a big deal, back in the 80s, at the height of the aids epidemic, there was a lot of hysteria and misinformation in circulation about HIV and AIDS, and a lot of people suffered terrible discrimination on the basis of either the fact that they were positive, or even that they were homosexual. The disease was really only “discovered” (by which I mean identified and described) by the American Center for disease Control (the CDC) in 1981, when public health officials flagged-up similar lung infections that had occurred in no less that five gay men living in the Los Angeles area. We would later go on to know that “lung infection” as PCP pneumonia. This discovery led to the discovery that all five of these men (a few of which had already died by the time the report had been made public) also had other “opportunistic” (to use the medical term) infections that usually only occur in patients with compromised immune systems. It was that realisation that led the CDC to realise how the disease really exploded among gay males.  Nowadays (looking again at UK statistics), heterosexual men and black women are quickly closing-in on this demographic, although men who have sex with men are still the largest affected group.

Worldwide, 36.9 million people are living with HIV, with a majority of them living in low-income to poverty-stricken regions. Of those 36.9 million people, 2.6 million are children. Sub-Saharan Africa is particularly hard hit, with a staggering 28.5 million people living with the disease in that region alone.

Ian Green is the Chief Executive of the Terrence Higgins Trust, a sexual health and education charity in the UK that was present at the event. He spoke to The Guardian in praise of Harry, calling his commitment to fighting HIV ” genuine and personal”,  and later called the event a “groundbreaking moment in the fight against HIV.”

Harry himself was the very portrait of poised, royal deportment. Of the issue, he had this to say.

Whether you are a man, woman, gay, straight, black, white, whatever, or even ginger – why wouldn’t you come and have a test? We all shouldn’t be on the other side of the river pointing, saying: ‘You should get the test.’ To normalise the situation surely it’s better if everyone gets tested. Let’s all get tested.

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