In an effort to combat his country’s rising HIV rates and to destigmatize testing, England’s Prince Harry on Thursday livestreamed himself on Facebook undergoing the quick and simple procedure.
Administered at a London hospital by psychotherapist Robert Palmer, an official with the UK’s National Health Service Foundation Trust, the test involved a momentary finger-prick and gave almost immediate results that showed the prince, 31, was HIV negative.
At one point Harry put across a message while also poking fun at his red hair. “So whether you’re a man, woman, gay, straight, black, white, whatever, even ginger, why wouldn’t you come have a test?” he asked Palmer rhetorically. As of Thursday afternoon, the video had received more than 1.1 million views.
Elton John was among those applauding the prince’s efforts, comparing them to those of Harry’s late mother. “In 1991, Princess Diana moved a mountain by addressing the stigma surrounding people living with HIV/AIDS,” the Rock and Roll Hall of Famer posted on Instagram. “She showed the world we could safely wrap our arms around AIDS patients, by shaking hands with a patient without gloves. … Today in London, Prince Harry gave that stigma a knock on the head by showing the world how easy and simple it is to take an HIV test. Bravo Prince Harry! Your mother would be so proud of you.”
The Royal Family’s Facebook page noted that “up to 17% of HIV positive patients are unaware of their status and unintentionally pass on the virus to partners. Prince Harry believes until everyone feels relaxed about taking HIV tests … the stigma and fear surrounding HIV testing will continue to allow the virus to win.”
On Wednesday, Prince Harry will arrive in Durban, South Africa, for the International AIDS Conference, and the following day meet with a number of leaders in the fight against the disease.