Report: Gen Z Knows Least About HIV Compared to Older Generations

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Investigators of the GLAAD and Gilead COMPASS Initiative survey tracked the progress against HIV stigma, the transmission and prevention of HIV, and the attitudes and knowledge of those living with HIV in the United States.

In a survey conducted by GLAAD and Gilead COMPASS Initiative, Generation Z, the youngest generation included in the survey, was the least knowledgeable about HIV, but is also the most diverse and out LGBTQ+ generation to date.1 Investigators tracked the progress against HIV stigma, the transmission and prevention of HIV, and the attitudes and knowledge of those living with HIV in the United States.1

Aids HIV Virus | Image Credit: Ezume Images - stock.adobe.com

Aids HIV Virus | Image Credit: Ezume Images - stock.adobe.com

The study was conducted via an online survey in February 2023, with a sample of 2533 US adults aged 18 years or older.1 Investigators noticed that from 2022 to 2023, there was a stable percent of Americans who were knowledgeable about HIV, changing from 50% to 49%, with only 3% saying they were not aware of HIV in 2023. There was also little change between “know a little bit about HIV” and “have heard the term HIV, but don’t know much about it.”1

Additionally, investigators found that approximately 70% of Americans believe there are medications that protect against contracting HIV, specifically pre-exposure prohylaxis.1

Approximately 62% of Generation X, those born from 1965 to 1980, were knowledgeable about HIV while only 34% of Gen Z, those born from 1997 to 2012, were knowledgeable. This shows a need to educate and raise awareness of HIV in the younger generations, according to the investigators. Approximately 50% of millennials, those born from 1981 to 1996, were knowledgeable about HIV while only 46% of Baby Boomers, born from 1946 to 1964, were knowledgeable.1

Investigators reported that approximately 57% of those aged 13 to 34 years accounted for new HIV diagnoses in 2020 while those aged 25 to 34 years accounted for 37%, which further supports the need for better education among the younger generations.1

Although GLAAD reported an increase in the number of television and movie characters with HIV represented in 2022 to 2023, none of the characters are slated to return to the screen this year. The authors of the report stated that the prevalence around representation and less accurate information on HIV and affordable care access in media could affect education for the younger generations. They said entertainment can be used to leverage education about HIV to help the younger generations learn and understand it better.1

Approximately 86% of Americans agree there is still a stigma that exists around HIV, which was supported by data indicating that Americans have become more uncomfortable being around those with HIV in certain settings. These include interacting with a barber or hair stylist at 41%, a teacher at 33%, or a co-worker at 32% compared to 37%, 29%, and 29%, respectively.1

Although anyone can contract HIV, 37% of Americans in 2023 believe that HIV mostly impacts LGBTQ individuals, which demonstrates the need for better awareness and education around those who live with HIV.1

Furthermore, 81% of Americans believe that it should be considered criminal for someone living with HIV to have sex with someone who does not have HIV without disclosing their health status. Investigators of the study said this further stigmatizes and discriminates against those living with HIV.1

According to the CDC, nearly 40% of new HIV infections are actually transmitted by those who do not know they have the virus,2 supporting the authors’ statement that everyone should be tested for HIV in their lifetime; however, the belief dropped among Americans from 2022 at 70% to 2023 at 65%.1

However, approximately 91% of Americans agree that HIV and HIV prevention should be taught in schools, while 85% agree that it is important to have accessible information about HIV available within the community.1

The sample of the study was sourced and aggregated through CINT, which is a consumer network for digital survey-based research, according to the investigators.1

References

  1. GLAAD and Gilead COMPASS Initiative. HIV Stigma and Knowledge in the United States: Insights from the Fourth Annual GLAAD and Gilead Survey. New York, NY: GLAAD; 2021. October 15, 2021. Accessed September 19, 2023. https://www.glaad.org/sites/default/files/GLAAD-Gilead%20HIV%20Stigma%20and%20Knowledge%20in%20the%20United%20States%202021.pdf.
  2. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. HIV Testing. Updated June 9, 2022. Accessed September 19, 2023. https://www.cdc.gov/hiv/testing/index.html#:~:text=Nearly%2040%25%20of%20new%20HIV,life%20and%20preventing%20HIV%20transmission
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