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Charlie Sheen’s HIV Announcement Saved Lives

Charlie Sheen’s HIV Announcement Still Driving an Increase in Testing. Now, almost two years later, researchers say the actor may have inadvertently shed light on testing and practicing safe sex: “record levels” of HIV testing followed his confession.
On Nov. 17, 2015, Charlie Sheen told the world he was HIV-positive during an interview on NBC’s Today Show.
Condom-use searches climbed by 75 per cent and searches for signs of HIV and HIV testing increased by 540 and 214 per cent.
He’s been labelled a bad boy and womanizer, but what about a champion for public health and sexual education?
(Sheen ended up sharing the study’s findings on social media and started up a more conscious approach to promoting HIV prevention, Ayers said.)

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The Charlie Sheen effect on HIV testing

HIV Announcement
Charlie Sheen’s HIV Announcement Saved Lives

Explore further: The Charlie Sheen effect on HIV prevention More information: Jon-Patrick Allem et al, The Charlie Sheen Effect on Rapid In-home Human Immunodeficiency Virus Test Sales, Prevention Science (2017).
Still, it may be the window has not fully closed on the Charlie Sheen effect, he said.
“However, when we compared Sheen’s disclosure to other traditional awareness campaigns the ‘Charlie Sheen effect’ is astonishing.”
Credit: John W. Ayers On November 17, 2015, actor Charlie Sheen publicly disclosed he was HIV-positive on NBC’s Today Show.
“Our strategy allowed us to provide a real-world estimation of the ‘Charlie Sheen effect’ on HIV prevention and contrast that effect with our past formative assessment using Internet searches,” said study coauthor Eric Leas, a research associate in the SDSU-UCSD joint doctoral program in public health.

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More Evidence Charlie Sheen’s HIV Announcement Saved Lives — Science of Us

But there are exceptions to that rule, and one of the more interesting classes of exceptions occurs when there’s a big, high-profile event that focuses a lot of media attention on a particular problem.
And it lends a lot of credence to the idea that some high-profile events really can cause massive, albeit probably temporary, changes in behavior — sometimes, as in this case, life-saving ones.
A few months later, in a JAMA Internal Medicine study that Science of Us covered, Ayers and his colleagues found that Sheen’s announcement appeared to have caused a massive uptick in Google searches pertaining to HIV testing and condoms.
It was one of those media events that focused a huge amount of attention on one public figure and one very important public-health issue.
Rather than just examine search-term volume, the researchers looked at sales data for OraQuick, which is apparently the only rapid-result HIV testing kit available in the United States.

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