In a video message recorded for National HIV Testing Week, the Duke of Sussex said: “Taking an HIV test is something to be proud of – not something to be ashamed or embarrassed about.
“As much as you protect yourself at this time of year from illnesses and viruses like cold and flu, you can also protect your health by taking an HIV test.”
Around one in eight people living with HIV are unaware they have the virus, while 43% of those diagnosed last year were already at a late stage, meaning damage to the immune system had begun.
Late diagnosis is associated with a tenfold increase in the risk of short-term mortality.
Prince Harry said that a 28% drop in new HIV diagnoses in the last two years was “something to celebrate” but he added that “this is no time for complacency”.
The prince has advocated for more widespread use of HIV testing for years and was even tested live on Facebook two years ago.
The move saw a fivefold increase in the number of orders for HIV tests from sexual health and HIV charity Terrence Higgins Trust.
Prince Harry said: “We won’t bring an end to the Human Immunodeficiency Virus until testing is seen as completely normal and accessible for everyone.
“Two years ago, I took a test and the whole process was actually really easy; the result came back within just a few minutes.
“This is such a pivotal time in the fight against HIV. If we can continue to make HIV testing the norm and empower young people to take control of their sexual health, we can be the generation to finally bring an end to HIV.”
Ian Green, chief executive of the Terrence Higgins Trust, said the charity was “thrilled” to have Harry’s support.
He added: “As His Royal Highness says, we protect ourselves from cold and flu at this time of year – so let’s protect ourselves against HIV by getting tested and knowing our status.
“It’s an ambitious aim, but we have a real opportunity to get to zero new HIV infections in the UK.”
Public Health England chief executive Duncan Selbie said: “HIV testing and treatment is free and available to all.
“You can take a test in your own home or at sexual health services, GPs, healthcare and community settings nationwide.
“In many cases the test involves a simple finger prick and results are ready within minutes.”
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