Health awareness

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

February 3, 2021

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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*

Owning HIV statistics

*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.

In the U.S., African American people make up just over 40% of new HIV diagnoses in 2018, making it the most impacted group compared to all other races and ethnicities in the U.S.

HIV in young, black America

In November 2020, new findings specific to young Black and African American survey respondents were released as part of Owning HIV Presents: HIV in Young, Black America, a free live and on-demand webinar to invite college students to fight stigma and take ownership of the HIV epidemic.

View the full webinar

More key findings*

*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.

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. In the Owning HIV survey, among African American respondents who were living with HIV, only 42% agreed that the term “undetectable” meant that a person living with HIV cannot transmit the virus sexually.

It’s time to change the course of the HIV epidemic

Bruce Richman and Murray Penner
“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.”

Meet the young advocates who are helping us spread the word

  • Deondre Moore
  • Josh Robbins
  • Nunu Thomas
  • 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 Program and Communications Manager 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 and Ambassador for The Elizabeth Taylor AIDS Foundation
  • Josh Robbins is a national sexual health spokesperson, social media consultant, and health journalist. His GLAAD Media Award nominated blog,, 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,
  • Wanona Thomas was diagnosed with HIV while pregnant at 24 years old. As a mother to four children, she had to quickly begin a treatment plan with her healthcare provider to become and remain undetectable to reduce the risk of transmitting the virus to her child. In 2017, she founded LIVE IN YOUR TRUTH, a non-profit organization dedicated to empowering and inspiring individuals in a life of recovery from diagnosis of life-changing health conditions and tragedies. – Wanona Thomas, LIVE IN YOUR TRUTH

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.