One year after taking a HIV test live on Facebook, Prince Harry is continuing the fight against the virus by handing out self test kits to people in London.
The Prince attended the opening of Terrence Higgins Trust’s HIV self test pop-up shop in Hackney to launch National HIV Testing Week (18-24 November).
There, his Royal Highness met with Andrew Bates, who was diagnosed with HIV in 2015, and Yvette Twagiramariya, a reporter who took a live HIV test in front of Harry to demonstrate how they work.
Before departing the event, the Prince met and talked with some local Hackney residents and gave them self test kits to try at home.
With self-testing, a person will perform the HIV test – either by taking a saliva sample with a swab or a small sample of blood from a finger prick. They will then test the sample themselves using the kit (making sure to follow the instructions) and will be able to see their result immediately.
Harry’s visit coincided with the release of new figures from Public Health England (PHE) that show the drive to increase HIV testing is having an impact, with a 21.8% drop in the number of people who are undiagnosed and do not know that they’re living with HIV.
That said, it’s estimated that there are still 10,700 people in England who are unaware that they’re living with the infection.
Ian Green, CEO of the Terrence Higgins Trust, said: “Incredible progress has been made to reduce HIV transmission and late diagnoses, and support people living with HIV, which would have been unimaginable even three or four years ago.
“However, we must not be complacent, and now is the time to double up on efforts and investment to ensure we can end all new cases of HIV in the UK and support people living with HIV to enjoy healthy, long lives. There is also still so much work to do to end the stigma that faces people living with HIV in the UK.”
Dr Valerie Delpech, head of HIV Surveillance at PHE, added: “This year, there are three firsts in the 30 year history of the UK HIV epidemic.
“In London, all the global UNAIDS 90:90:90 targets have been met with 90% of people living with HIV infection diagnosed, 97% of people diagnosed receiving treatment and 97% of those receiving treatment virally suppressed.
“HIV transmission among gay and bi men has fallen, and the death rate among people with HIV who are diagnosed promptly and on treatment is now comparable to the rest of the population.
“We celebrate these extraordinary achievements which are the result of a comprehensive response involving many key players and organisations .
“By continuing to invest in effective preventative measures including condom use, expanded HIV testing, prompt treatment and the use of PrEP, the elimination of HIV transmission, AIDS and HIV-related deaths could become a reality in the UK.”
You can find out more about National HIV Testing Week, which runs from 18 – 24 November, by visiting www.itstartswithme.org.uk.