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Quarter of millennials avoid hugging someone who is HIV-positive, shocking research finds

Nick Duffy November 26, 2019
A quarter of millennials avoid hugging HIV-positive people

A quarter of millenials avoid hugging HIV-positive people (Stock photo)

A quarter of millennials would avoid hugging someone who is living with HIV, according to a new study.

The shocking research from Prevention Access Campaign and US pharmaceutical giant Merck, released ahead of World AIDS Day on December 1, reveals how prevalent stigma is.

A survey of HIV-negative people aged 23-36 found that 30 per cent said they would prefer not to interact socially with someone with HIV.

28 per cent said they have avoided hugging, talking to or being friends with someone with HIV – despite no risk of transmission through casual contact.

Myths are also prevalent among Hispanic and African American respondents, 34 per cent of whom said they have avoided shaking hands or sharing food, drinks or utensils with someone with HIV.

People still don’t know that undetectable equals untransmittable.

The survey confirmed that there is a long way to go for the Undetectable=Untransmittable campaign, which raises awareness of the fact that it is not possible for people living with HIV to pass it on if they have an undetectable viral load.

Only 31 per cent of respondents knew that “undetectable” means a person living with HIV cannot transmit the virus , with 50 per cent believing it is possible for the virus to be transmitted when someone is undetectable.

28 percent said they have avoided hugging, talking to or being friends with someone with HIV
28 percent said they have avoided hugging, talking to or being friends with a person who is HIV-positive

Bruce Richman of the Prevention Access Campaign said: “Despite scientific advances and decades of HIV advocacy and education, the findings highlight a disturbing trend: young adults overwhelmingly are not being informed effectively about the basics of HIV.

“These findings are a call to action that the crisis in the United States is far from over.

“It’s time to elevate a real conversation about HIV and sexual health among America’s young people, and roll out innovative and engaging initiatives to educate and fight HIV stigma.”

Although HIV diagnoses have remained stable overall in the US, they are rising among young people, who now account for a majority of new HIV diagnoses.

Unmet needs for HIV prevention among vulnerable populations.

Dr Peter Sklar of Merck said: “It’s clear based on these findings, unmet needs exist among vulnerable populations across our country.

“Understanding the problem is the first step in preventing a deepening of the HIV epidemic.

“We must continue to search for ways to better understand young people’s perceptions of HIV, promote safer sex behaviours and drive education and action in this population.

“It’s time to act. We are proud to champion these important issues with Prevention Access Campaign.”

More: HIV, millennials, world aids day

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