You may recall that Prince Harry recently underwent a very public HIV test, to raise awareness of the condition and highlight the importance of getting tested. The campaign has had the desired effect, with the number of people ordering HIV tests increasing dramatically in the weeks following the video. The Terrence Higgins Trust, who offered the free tests, reported that 4,750 tests had been shipped to UK residents, with the option of being able to see the results for themselves within 15 minutes, and in the privacy of their own home. Improvements in testing makes it far less daunting to undergo an HIV test, and with more than 100,000 people living with HIV in the UK, and one in six unaware that they have the condition, it’s important to get tested.
HIV in the UK
According to the Terrence Higgins Trust, there are 103,700 people living with HIV in the UK, whilst 17% of them are unaware that they have it. Meanwhile, around 40% of those who were diagnosed in 2014 were diagnosed at a late stage, meaning they were diagnosed after the point where they should have started treatment. Of the 85,489 people who have accessed care services for HIV, 41% of these were in London, whilst the number of cases from heterosexual contact is increasing.
Prince Harry underwent the test by going to a sexual health clinic on Burrell Street in London, and was shown having the test and receiving his results on camera. The work to raise awareness of HIV and HIV testing is part of his public work, which also includes raising awareness of mental health issues amongst young people and veterans. The video has been watched by hundreds of thousands of viewers, and was well-reported in the media, with a great knock-on effect for the Terrance Higgins Trust scheme.
About the Terrance Higgins Trust Scheme
The Terrance Higgins Trust campaign was launched at the end of June, in conjunction with LGBT Pride and Black Pride in London to target men who have sex with men and black African people in the UK. These two groups are the highest affected by HIV in the UK. As part of the scheme, free HIV home tests were offered, allowing people to undergo a test in the comfort of their own homes at a time that suited them. Those who participated received the results in around 15 minutes. The two week social media campaign was a great success and saw a huge peak in take up following Prince Harry’s video.
The scheme has been deemed a success, especially amongst the younger ages groups, with the average age of people who ordered the test being 31. The test has offered greater flexibility to those seeking an HIV test, helping those who have been detered because of fears of being seen at a clinic or those too nervous to see a doctor. As a prick test, the process is less invasive than a blood test, and the quick turnaround of results makes it far less intimidating. It is hoped now that the study can inform future HIV testing methods, with the possiblity of rolling the scheme out further.
Getting an HIV Test
With HIV, it’s important to get tested and diagnosed to ensure that treatment can begin immediately, aiding treatment and future prognosis. Testing is readily available from a range of sources, including your GP surgery, sexual health clinics, and of course, the Terrance Higgins Trust. If you suspect HIV or have concerns, make an appointment as soon as possible. You can find further information on HIV testing on the NHS Choices website, as well as from your GP.