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Owning HIV: Young adults & the fight ahead

A campaign created with Prevention Access Campaign and HIV advocates to inspire all of us to own the future of the HIV epidemic

We started out by asking an important question:

What do young adults know about HIV?

Owning HIV kicked off with a first-of-its-kind survey to better understand beliefs and perceptions about HIV among millennials and Gen Z in the U.S. 

Survey findings uncovered a jarring trend of general confusion and insufficient knowledge about HIV and its transmission among survey respondents, along with the existence of high-risk sexual practices, poor disease management, and stigmatizing behaviors among young adults.

Selected 2019 survey findings by the numbers*

90%

of those living with HIV agreed that someone may avoid sharing their status because of the fear of losing friends or family, or experiencing mental, physical, or emotional abuse

28%

of HIV-negative millennials said they have avoided hugging, talking to, or being friends with someone with HIV

41%

HIV-negative Gen Z and 23% HIV-negative millennial respondents said that they were not at all or only somewhat informed about HIV

50%

of African American survey respondents living with HIV and 66% of HIV-negative African American survey respondents were unable to define "undetectable"

*Survey respondents self-reported their HIV status; the HIV-negative survey results include data from survey respondents who reported that their HIV status was unknown.

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The facts about U=U

Scientific evidence confirms that people living with HIV on treatment who reach and maintain an undetectable viral load have effectively no risk of transmitting the virus sexually. This is known as Undetectable=Untransmittable or U=U. U=U is an important public health message that supports the well-being of people by helping to dismantle HIV stigma.

Meet Davina Conner, a mother and entrepreneur who became the advocate she needed

Davina Connor

When Davina (Dee) Conner was diagnosed with HIV at age 27, she didn’t know who to turn to. “I really didn’t know anything about HIV. I had no education on HIV at all.” Dee shares, “I wasn’t given anything.”

Today, Dee is a mother of two, a college graduate, and the kind of advocate she herself needed when she was younger, providing the kind of hope, support, and guidance she knows firsthand to be valuable to women and young people everywhere.

“What matters to me most right now is inspiring people and motivating people to know that they can live with HIV,” says Dee, Creative Engagement and Outreach Specialist at Prevention Access Campaign. “Advocacy is my life. And putting a face to HIV is helping so many people – even people who won’t say anything – it’s helping them.”

“The HIV crisis in the U.S. is far from over. Fighting it starts with education. We must elevate a real conversation about HIV and sexual health among America’s young people and take proactive steps to educate about U=U and fight HIV stigma.”

Bruce Richman
Bruce Richman
founding executive director, Prevention Access Campaign and the U=U campaign
Murray Penner
Murray Penner
executive director, United States, Prevention Access Campaign

Meet the young advocates who are helping us spread the word

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  • Yonda Jones
  • Cameron Kinker
  • Deondre Moore
  • Josh Robbins
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  • Yonce Jones is a transgender woman who grew up between foster homes, and now seeks to educate and inspire others through her life experiences. In her role as a Peer Empowerment Leader she helped to empower and led Harlem United clients in civic engagement and public education. - Yonce Jones, HIV and Trans activist, and Certified PrEP Navigator
  • Cameron Kinker is the Director, U.S. Programs for Prevention Access Campaign and the U=U Campaign. He is HIV-negative and strongly believes in the necessity of educating other seronegative individuals about U=U. Seronegative means that a person does not have detectable HIV antibodies - Cameron Kinker, Prevention Access Campaign
  • Deondre Moore was diagnosed with HIV at the age of nineteen. He has since dedicated himself to the promotion of peer and community HIV education and prevention, working in community outreach in his home state of Texas and across the U.S. with leading advocacy and pharmaceutical organizations. - Deondre Moore, Prevention Access Campaign
  • Josh Robbins is a national sexual health spokesperson, social media consultant, and health journalist. His GLAAD Media Award nominated blog, imstilljosh.com, covers many issues people living with HIV face and breaking HIV news. In 2018, he was awarded a NLGJA “Excellence in Journalism Award.” - Josh Robbins, Imstilljosh.com

Get tested

Dr. Peter Sklar

“During my years as a physician, I’ve come across many young people who were so afraid of a potential diagnosis that they don’t get tested or seek treatment. I am here to say, as health care providers, we are here to help you, don’t be shy, don’t worry about feeling judged – we want to provide the best care that is right for you.”

Dr. Peter Sklar
Director, clinical research, Merck Research Laboratories

Interested in learning more?

Discover more findings and learn how we conducted the Owning HIV study.