Russians flocked to Google for information about HIV tests after an influential YouTuber’s documentary shed light on the scale of the country’s HIV epidemic this week.
Journalist Yury Dud’s two-hour documentary addresses what he refers to as an ignored issue that “affects each and every one” of his millions of subscribers. Almost 8 million people viewed Dud’s HIV documentary in the 48 hours since it went online Tuesday.
“We filmed this episode to add knowledge and make life a little easier for those with HIV,” Dud says in the video.
The number of searches for Russian-language terms relating to HIV tests was up by a combined 5,500% around the world by Wednesday evening, according to a Google Trends screenshot shared by Ukrainian HIV campaigner Inna Gavrilova. She attributes the spike in users’ interest to Dud’s popularity.
HIV was Russia’s second-most-searched term on Tuesday, the day Dud’s documentary came out.
More than 1 million people in Russia live with HIV and a record 37,000 people died from HIV-related illnesses there in 2019.
The World Health Organization warned that Russia risked developing an out-of-control HIV epidemic after data showed a record number of new cases in 2017. Most came from heterosexual sex as the disease spread outside high-risk groups.
Russia’s Health Ministry has argued that the increase in Russia's HIV-positive population indicates that fewer people die from complications linked with the disease.