It has been four decades since the first AIDS cases were reported when looking at the U.S., but stigma against HIV-positive people persists, among younger Americans who was not alive throughout the early — and darkest — days of this epidemic.
A survey released Monday found that over one fourth (28 percent) of HIV-negative millennials have avoided hugging, speaking with or becoming friends with someone aided by the virus. Thirty percent said they would prefer never to engage at all with individuals who possess HIV.
Sponsored by Merck plus the Prevention Access Campaign, the report also unearthed that 23 percent of HIV-negative millennials — and 41 percent of HIV-negative Gen Z respondents — admitted these people were “not at all” informed or “only somewhat” informed about HIV. Half of the HIV-negative respondents, who were all 18 to 36, said they believed a person whose viral load was undetectable could possibly transmit the HIV virus. (It cannot based on multiple studies.)
HIV can only be contracted by getting into direct contact with certain body fluids, like blood and semen, from an individual with HIV who has a detectable viral load, in line with the U.S. Department of health insurance and Human Services.