Charlie Sheen's November announcement that he is HIV-positive may be helping people save lives by prompting them to research prevention, a JAMA International Medicine study published Monday suggests.
The researchers found that media coverage of HIV the day Sheen made his Today announcement ranked in the top 1 percent of coverage of the last seven years. They also saw a sharp spike in the number of Google searches pertaining to HIV in the weeks after his disclosure. Many of the searches pertained to prevention methods, including terms like "condoms" and "HIV testing."
"Sheen's disclosure is the most significant domestic HIV-prevention event in the last decade, even though it was unplanned and was not framed as a public-health event," lead study author Dr. John W. Ayers told New York.
There's precedent for the so-called Sheen effect. Katie Couric's live colonoscopy screening prompted an increase in screenings and awareness of colon cancer, and Angelina Jolie's double mastectomy had a similar effect on breast cancer awareness.