Charlie Sheen’s Announcement Set An HIV Awareness Record

When Charlie Sheen came forward with his HIV diagnosis in Nov. 2015, he said he revealed his status to put a stop to years of extortion and blackmail. His televised announcement came one day before a tabloid magazine was set to publish an “expose” that the controversial star is HIV positive.

While the announcement was a coup for NBC’s “Today” show and a reported relief to the actor himself, it also accomplished something else entirely: According to experts, it was the most significant HIV awareness event of the last decade.

Researchers behind a new study about Sheen’s impact on HIV awareness say that according to the sheer volume of news his announcement generated, as well as the millions of Google searches people made about HIV, the reveal was the largest prevention event since as early as 2004. What’s more, his influence in HIV awareness may be ongoing.

“Charlie Sheen’s disclosure is potentially the most significant domestic HIV prevention event in the last decade,” said John Ayres, a public health expert at San Diego State University and lead author of the study. “How do we improve and enhance the ‘Charlie Sheen effect,’ to make it larger?”

A spike in HIV searches on Sheen’s disclosure day

Ayres traced back as far as 2004, the earliest year news data is available via Google Trends. For consistency, he also analyzed indexed news stories from Bloomberg Terminal data since 2004, too. He found that from 2004 to 2015, news stories about HIV declined, falling from 67 per 1,000 to 12 per 1,000.

But Sheen’s disclosure day on Nov. 17 coincided with a 265 percent increase in news stories mentioning HIV, and more than 6,500 additional news stories on Google news alone.

“The potential that Sheen has to do something about spreading messages of awareness and information is potentially —> Read More