Sometimes you don’t realize just how far we’ve got to go until you see it in figures. And the ones from this latest study conducted by pharmaceutical company Merck reveal that there is still a huge stigma attached to HIV and that young people are very largely uneducated on the matter.
The study is part of a new project, in which the company have teamed up with the Prevention Access Campaign to bring Owning HIV: Young Adults and the Fight Ahead. It revealed that 41% of HIV-negative Generation Z were either completely uninformed or only somewhat informed, while 23% of millennials were the same.
However, clearly the stats don’t match, as 28% of millennials said they wouldn’t talk to, hug or be friends with someone with HIV, while 30% they wouldn’t even interact socially with someone positive. That’s pretty damn shocking.
Unsurprisingly, 76% of young adults living with HIV agreed that someone positive may be hesitant to share their status for fear of being judged. Which basically demonstrates how stigma allows the disease to thrive.
Bruce Richman, founding executive director of the 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.”
“It’s time to elevate a real conversation about HIV and sexual health among America’s young people,” he added, “and roll out innovative and engaging initiatives to educate and fight HIV stigma.”
The study consisted of 1596 individuals between 18 and 36. In order to suppress these kinds of attitudes, the organizers will continue to conduct similar research in order to better aim effective campaigns and that those most misinformed.
“Our goal is to help improve overall understanding and literacy while elevating the urgency around this critical public health issue,” said Dr. Eliav Barr, senior vice president, Global Medical Affairs, Merck Research Laboratories.