Things That Matter

New Study Shows That 28 Percent Of Millennials Refuse To Hug People Who Are HIV-Positive

One in three Black and Latino millennials said they avoid shaking hands with HIV-positive people, according to a new study from the Prevention Access Campaign and pharmaceutical company Merck. While many of us understand HIV stigma as a relic of the Boomer generation, the new study, centered around millennial perception, found that stigma remains as a social barrier for those living with HIV. Not only do nearly all respondents (90 percent) living with HIV agree that they may avoid sharing their status for fear of losing friends or family, or experiencing mental, physical or emotional abuse, but they’re right. While 28 percent of HIV-negative millennials self-reported that they would avoid “hugging, talking to or being friends with someone with HIV,” but 34 percent of HIV-negative Latino and Black millennials said they wouldn’t even shake hands, share food, drinks or utensils with someone with HIV. The HIV strain is not transferrable through casual contact and can only be transferred by contact with infected blood or sexual fluids.

The survey found that young adults were more likely to be generally confused and uninformed about HIV than older generations who lived through the HIV/AIDS epidemic. Generation Z or Zoomers were found to be even less informed than millennials.

Ultimately, the study found that young people “are not being accurately informed about how HIV can and cannot be transmitted.”

CREDIT: @MPCAPS / TWITTER

 In case you don’t know where you fall, Zoomers are people currently aged 18-22, and Millennials are those currently aged 23-36. “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,” said Bruce Richman, founding executive director, Prevention Access Campaign and the Undetectable Equals Untransmittable (U=U) campaign. “These findings are a call to action that the crisis in the United States is far from over. It’s time to elevate a real conversation about HIV and sexual health among America’s young people, and roll out innovative and engaging initiatives to educate and fight HIV stigma.”

The ignorance around the facts is staggering, including among those who have been diagnosed and are being treated by medical professionals.

CREDIT: @POSITIVE_TRANS / TWITTER

Only 31 percent of HIV-positive millennials understood that the term “undetectable” means that an HIV-positive person cannot transmit the virus sexually. Half of the HIV-negative respondents believed they could still contract the virus from someone who is “undetectable.” Undetectable means untransmittable, and it’s a major scientific advance in the fight against HIV. 

If taken as prescribed, which nearly 30 percent of the respondents do not, HIV medicine reduces the amount of HIV in the blood (viral load) to a very low level, which keeps the immune system working and prevents illness. Viral suppression is defined as having less than 200 copies of HIV per milliliter of blood. When an HIV-positive person who is taking medication receives a ‘negative’ test, it means the viral load is so low there is effectively no risk of them transmitting HIV sexually.

The Prevention Access Campaign seeks to end both the epidemic of HIV and its associated stigma, which form a negative feedback loop in public health.

CREDIT: @MERCK / TWITTER

Understanding the problem is the first step in preventing a deepening of the HIV epidemic,” said Dr. Peter Sklar, director, clinical research, Merck Research Laboratories, and practicing physician caring for people living with HIV. “We must continue to search for ways to better understand young people’s perceptions of HIV, promote safer sex behaviors and drive education and action in this population. It’s time to act. We are proud to champion these important issues with Prevention Access Campaign.”

Millennial Latinos have the highest rate of contracting HIV by having sex without condoms or PrEP.

CREDIT: @CDC_HIVAIDS / TWITTER

While more than two-thirds of HIV-negative young adults said they were most fearful of contracting HIV compared to other sexually transmitted infections (STIs), more than half of the same pool of people don’t use condoms or pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) in STI prevention. That means that young adults have a strong fear of contracting HIV but are largely not taking preventive measures to protect themselves, and the study suspects it’s simply for lack of education and stigma. The fact that the majority of young adults are not using condoms or PrEP is alarming given that more than 75 percent of HIV-positive millennials reported that they contracted HIV through sex without condoms or PrEP.

Even more alarming is that the stigma around condoms and PrEP are putting Black and Latino millennials at higher risk. Around 84 percent of HIV-positive Latinos and 79 percent of HIV-positive Black Americans reported contracting HIV through sex without condoms or PrEP use.

While Latinos make up 18 percent of the US population, they account for 26 percent of new HIV diagnoses in the US in 2017, according to the CDC.

Know your status. Get tested.

READ: Remembering Pedro Zamora, The HIV-Positive Man Who Changed Hearts And Minds While On ‘Real World: San Francisco’

TI’s Daughter Deyjah Called Her Dad’s Revelation Of Their Annual Gynaecologist Visits ‘Traumatising’

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TI’s Daughter Deyjah Called Her Dad’s Revelation Of Their Annual Gynaecologist Visits ‘Traumatising’

Dimitrios Kambouris / Getty

You might remember the backlash rapper TI received last year when he revealed during a podcast interview that he took his daughter to annual gynecological visits to check the status of her hymen. It didn’t take long for criticism of his intentions to catch wind and spark conversations about sexism in households and the abusive nature not only of his actions but disclosing something so private about his daughter. Eventually, the situation prompted TI to publicly apologize to his daughter, he even made an appearance on Red Table talk to take his medicine.

And while TI had a chance to voice his opinions about the controversy, his daughter Deyjah Imani Harris did not open up about her father’s behavior.

Now she’s speaking out.

In a new reality TV show, TI’s daughter revealed how she reacted to her father’s behavior and making her private information public.

In a recent episode of “TI & Tiny: Friends & Family Hustle,” Deyjah opened up about how “things are completely awkward between me and my dad.”

Speaking with her cousins, Deyjah broke down in tears detailing the moment she realized what her father had done. She explained that his actions made her feeling angry, hurt, and embarrassed. “I’m scrolling on Twitter, and I see that I’ve been tagged in a post,” Deyja told friends. “The only word that I saw was “gynecologist”, and I didn’t even need to read the whole title ’cause I just knew. My heart sank — very shocked, hurt, angry, embarrassed.”

Deyja went on to tell her cousins that her father had been taking her to the gynecologist since she was about 14 or 15 years old and that she felt uncomfortable confronting her father about his consistent invasion of her privacy. “I’m trying to push it in the back of my mind, so I’m really not thinking about it… I know it’s not healthy. But I’ve been doing that since I was a child.”

Later during a confessional Deyja explained that “things are completely uncomfortable for me right now. We’re all together in this house, so I have to see my Dad and be around him. And we’re in a foreign country, so it’s not like I can leave and get away.”

The story about TI’s behavior broke last year when he told Nazanin Mandi and Nadia Moham on the Ladies Like Us podcast that he checked the status of his daughter’s hymen yearly.

In an interview with Mandi and Moham, TI was asked whether or not he had the “sex talk” with his daughter yet.

“Have I? This is the thing: Deyjah’s 18, just graduated high school now and she’s attending her first year of college, figuring it out for herself,” the rapper replied. “And yes, not only have we had the conversation, we have yearly trips to the gynecologist to check her hymen.”

His response promoted laughter from the hosts which only seemed to encourage TI more.

“This is what we do. Right after the birthday, we celebrate,” T.I. continued “Usually like the day after the party she’s enjoying her gifts. I put a sticky note on the door: ‘Gyno. Tomorrow. 9:30. We’ll go and sit down and the doctor will come and talk, and the doctor is maintaining a high level of professionalism. He’s like, ‘You know sir, I have to… in order for me to share information… I’m like, ‘Deyjah they want you to sign this. They want you to sign this so we can share information. Is there anything you wouldn’t want me to know? Okay. See doc? No problem.’”

The rapper later added that “As of her 18th birthday, her hymen is still intact,” and joked that men aren’t interested in having sex with a virgin because they are “no fun”.

The rapper’s words quickly promoted criticism. In a piece for New York Magazine writer, Yashar Ali wrote “This is disgusting and horrible. Rapper T.I. says that he takes his daughter to the gynecologist to make sure her hymen is still intact!”

We concur.

Check out what Deyha had to say about her father below

The Second Person Cured Of HIV Is Reported To Still Be Free Two Years Later

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The Second Person Cured Of HIV Is Reported To Still Be Free Two Years Later

Chip Somodevilla / Getty

Just a small bit of good news during these hard times.

Adam Castillejo, an Argentinian man based in London is known as the second person ever to be cured of HIV. Two years after being cured of the disease he is still free of the virus.

Last week, The Lancet HIV revealed in their medical journal that Castillejo finished HIV antiretroviral therapy.

In his efforts to treat lymphoma, Castillejo underwent a stem cell transplant. At the time, his donor carried a mutation known as CCR5-delta 32. CCR5-delta 32 is resistant to HIV and researchers said treatment for his lymphoma not only saved Castillejo’s life but also cured him of HIV.

According to CNN, “HIV (human immunodeficiency virus) is a life-long viral infection that attacks the body’s immune system and can have significant health consequences. There is no widely available cure, however, the virus is treatable with a combination of drugs known as antiretroviral therapy that reduces the amount of virus in a person’s blood and it is preventable by using PrEP.”

PrEP was approved by the US Food and Drug Administration in 2012 for medical use.

According to UNAids there 37.9 million people across the globe were living with HIV in 2018.

“Our findings show that the success of stem cell transplantation as a cure for HIV, first reported nine years ago in the Berlin patient, can be replicated,” said Ravindra Gupta, a professor at the University of Cambridge’s clinical microbiology department.

As part of his lymphoma treatment, Castillejo underwent one stem-cell transplantation and did not have radiotherapy treatment applied to his whole body as part of his treatment.

Castillejo’s recovery form HIV is a light in studies related to the treatment of the virus and ways in which to pursue less intensive treatment approaches to curing it. “It is important to note that this curative treatment is high-risk, and only used as a last resort for patients with HIV who also have life-threatening hematological malignancies,” Gupta warned about the potential to use a similar method in pursuing invasive treatment of the virus.

Because of the high risks involved with such curative treatment, it is not one being offered broadly to patients with HIV.

This is particularly true when it comes to those that on successful antiretroviral treatment.

The great news is that Castillejo is the second reported patient to undergo this experimental treatment. The authors on his study have said that while he will require extensive observation it won’t have to be quite as regular.