May 18, 2017
After actor Charlie Sheen announced that he was HIV-positive during an interview on NBC’s Today Show on Nov. 17, 2015, researchers found that millions of people conducted online search queries for HIV prevention and testing. In a follow-up study published today in Prevention Science, the same research team discovered that the impact of Sheen’s disclosure, known as the “Charlie Sheen effect,” also resulted in record levels of in-home rapid HIV test sales in the United States.
“Our new findings reinforce how a celebrity can impact health decision-making and make an even stronger case that Sheen’s disclosure promoted HIV prevention, thanks to the availability of rapid in-home HIV testing,” John W. Ayers, PhD, research professor at San Diego University Graduate School of Public Health, and colleagues wrote. “In particular, the public’s health decisions are heavily influenced by public figures and reveal an opportunity for the prevention community to target health behaviors when related issues are widely publicized in the media.”