A pop-up shop where people can test themselves for HIV received a royal opening in Hackney this week.
Prince Harry was on Morning Lane to cut the ribbon at the new shop, which was set up by leading HIV charity Terrence Higgins Trust (THT).
The shop is open until 24 November, to coincide with National HIV Testing Week.
The prince spent time with a young man who was diagnosed with HIV in 2015, handed out free self-test kits to visitors and spoke about the importance of testing.
When asked why the charity chose to open the shop in Hackney, Cary James, Head of Health Improvement at THT, said: “Hackney is great and quite a few of our staff members live in the borough.
“Also, the two groups most affected by HIV are people from black African communities and gay men. Hackney has a very high population of both of these groups and in terms of the number of people that have HIV, Hackney has one of the highest prevalences in the UK.”
In 2015/16, the number of people diagnosed with HIV in Hackney was 7.69 out of 1,000 – compared to 5.78 in London and 2.31 for England as a whole.
James said he hopes the shop will “reduce the stigma” around HIV testing and show that it is something everyone can and should do.
Hackney Mayor Philip Glanville also visited the shop yesterday, tweeting: “No Prince Harry this time, but still great to join @jonathanmcshane & @THTorguk at their Hackney pop up shop in @HackneyWalk for #HIVTestWeek, where you can get tested & Give HIV the finger.”
No Prince Harry this time, but still great to join @jonathanmcshane & @THTorguk at their Hackney pop up shop in @HackneyWalk for #HIVTestWeek, where you can get tested & Give HIV the finger. pic.twitter.com/OKjD2NEOJ1
— Mayor of Hackney (@mayorofhackney) November 16, 2017
The event coincides with the release of government figures which show an 18 per cent drop in new HIV diagnoses between 2015 and 2016, alongside a 22 per cent drop in the estimated number of people living with undiagnosed HIV.
James called the new figures “thrilling” and said he believes an increase in HIV testing is to thank for the success.
He added: “We now know that an HIV-positive person on effective treatment cannot pass HIV on to anyone else. So the more people that we can get tested and the more people we can get on treatment, the quicker we can stop the epidemic.”
THT chief executive Ian Green 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.”
THT is the UK’s leading HIV and sexual health charity, providing a wide range of services to more than 100,000 people a year.
The pop-up shop is located at Unit 13 at Hackney Walk on Morning Lane.
For more information, please visit www.tht.org.uk