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

October 12, 2020

Share this article

article hero thumbnail

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 survey findings by the numbers

The facts about U=U

Scientific evidence confirm 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 respondents who were living with HIV, only 31 percent 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

Yonce Jones

Harlem United
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 helps to empower and lead Harlem United clients in civic engagement and public education.

Cameron Kinker

Prevention Access Campaign
Cameron Kinker is the Community Engagement Coordinator 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.

Deondre Moore

Deondre Moore

Prevention Access Campaign and Ambassador for The Elizabeth Taylor AIDS Foundation
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.

Josh Robbins

Josh Robbins
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.”

Nunu Thomas

Wanona Thomas

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.

“We are proud to partner with the advocacy community to create a better understanding of the challenges and opportunities experienced by young adults living with and affected by HIV. Our goal is to help improve overall understanding and literacy while elevating the urgency around this critical public health issue.”

Dr. Eliav Barr
senior vice president, Global Medical Affairs, Merck Research Laboratories

Interested in learning more?

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