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’

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Latinxs Talk About Consent And How Their Parents Helped Them To Understand What It Meant

Fierce

Latinxs Talk About Consent And How Their Parents Helped Them To Understand What It Meant

Scott Olson / Getty

In the weeks following the allegations against Judge Brett Kavanaugh, discussions about consent and the #MeToo movement have gained more traction. Given the recent conversations about violence against women and discussions that dabble in “blurred lines” and question that the state of mind and memory of victims, our FIERCEteam talked about the meaning of consent and where we learned how to find our voice and say “no” when we want to.

Understanding respect for boundaries.

“My parents never really had a conversation with me about consent, at least none that I remember. I recall on a couple of occasions my mom just telling me that if i was dating someone, I had to make sure that I felt respected at all times (and vice versa), and that whoever I dated had to understand that “no” meant “no” and would never force me to do anything I didn’t want to do. It was always made clear that it was up to me where I wanted to draw the line, but the sooner I set my boundaries the easier it was, and to make sure I never led anyone on.” – Jess

Having the uncomfortable but necessary conversation.

“To be honest my mom didn’t really like to touch the subject from what I remember. Maybe I was too little to remember or understand? I know it is probably an awkward and hard talk to have with your kids. I do feel like it’s extremely important. One thing is for sure, my mom did let me know which parts were mine and that it was wrong if anyone touched me there. That is all. I guess she probably just wanted to throw it out there so I understood and so that she could move on from that “awkward” topic. To this day she does not like to talk about anything sexual to me. This could possibly be a common thing with Latino parents. Skipping over this talk, taking it lightly. I truly wish she could have been more open with me, even so right now.” – Jenny

Understanding it as a man.

“My mother always made sure to let my brother and I know that we have full autonomy over our own bodies. She’d say ‘Nobody has the right to pressure you into doing something you don’t want to do. If you feel uncomfortable during any situation, call me and I will pick you up immediately, no questions asked.’ This was when I was in high school and wanted to go to parties. She was also very clear with us that the same way we had freedom and autonomy over our bodies, so did everyone else. We had no right to pressure others to do something they were uncomfortable with. It was something that she made clear was abhorrent and inexcusable. Just like we want to feel free to be ourselves without fear of being abused or mistreated, we need to see everyone else with the same fear and privilege to dictate what happens to their bodies.” – Jorge

The mom who used lessons on consent to empower.

“My mom raised my siblings and I very Catholic, so she always told us sex was for marriage. That aside, she also told us that our bodies were to be respected and treated like the most sacred thing. Growing up, I always thought she was overly strict when she would tell me things boys shouldn’t do, but now that I’m older I know that she was teaching me about consent and boundaries. She constantly reminded me that my body was mine and no one else’s property. She also role played with me and put me in pretend scenarios where she’d get close to me so that I would practice saying “stop” to the other person. I was very shy, so she did her best to strengthen me and teach me ways to be comfortable enough to say “no” and not clam up.” – Wendy

Learning it from home.

“My mom started having discussions with my siblings and me about our bodies and consent for as long as I can remember. Looking back it’s very clear that she was instilling in us the knowledge that we had autonomy over our bodies, a right to say “no” and understand that there are people out there in the world who take advantage. I remember her bringing up conversations around this rather frequently, whether it was on a drive to school or on our way to spend time with a family member. She always wanted us to know that  if anyone ever made us feel uncomfortable or weird or embarrassed about the way they interacted with us physically or verbally that we had to speak up for ourselves. We didn’t use words like “vagina” in our house, we used “totico” but my mom made sure we knew that this was ours and that no one was allowed to touch it. She also made sure we knew that it was wrong to touch other people. It went both ways. She harped on this a lot when it came to my twin brother especially. She’d also always tell us to say the word “no” and that if something made us feel uncomfortable we had to tell her. My mom was very big on letting us know that if an adult that wasn’t her or my father told us to keep a secret between the two of us or threatened us that they were wrong and that we had to tell her. Looking back I really appreciate that now. I think it’s definitely helped me on the few occasions that I felt as if someone was attempting to take advantage of me.” – Alex

On how not talking about it made things a little more complex.

“I never had the ‘talk’ with my parent about sexuality. My mom got pregnant with twins when she was only 19 years old, and it was very hard economically for my parents to raise them. When I got my first boyfriend, my mom’s only concern was that I should use always protection, she didn’t care if I had sex or no, as long as I use protection to avoid getting pregnant at a young age as her. I guess we never had the talk about consent because my mom never experienced it before, she just tells me that she will be there for me if I want to talk about it. I experience it for the first time in college and it was hard for me to say “no” because I never had the talk and at my catholic school they never taught us about sexuality, so I was really naive on the topic of sexuality and consent.” – Danna

The parents who used consent talks to share defense methods.

“As an only child having conversations about consent with my parents seemed to be a frequent discussion. Whether or not I wanted to listen to them back then, looking back now I know my parents were simply engraining confidence in me from a young age to defend myself in any given situation. When I was younger my parents enrolled me in self defense classes not as an extracurricular activity but more as an everyday practice. Although, I always found them to be strict I know they were doing their best job to project me.” – Victoria

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For The First Time In History, Latinos Make Up The Largest Group Of University Of California System’s Freshman Class— It’s Not Enough

Things That Matter

For The First Time In History, Latinos Make Up The Largest Group Of University Of California System’s Freshman Class— It’s Not Enough

Justin Sullivan / Getty Images

Updated August 13, 2020.

For the first time, Latinos make up a majority of students accepted into the University of California system. California is home to a very large Latino population and these incoming freshman class is being celebrated as representing California.

For the first time in its history, the University of California system admitted a class of majority Latino students.

According to data about admissions, Latinos represent 36 percent of the 79,953 students accepted to the UC system. Asian-Americans represent 35 percent of the new freshman class. Meanwhile, white people made up 21 percent, African-Americans made up 5 percent, and American Indian/Pacific Islander made up 0 percent. Three percent of students chose not to reveal their race or ethnicity.

Audrey Dow, senior vice president of the policy and advocacy organization Campaign for College Opportunity, spoke to The New York Times about the progress and said that while these shifts are momentous, they’re not enough. “But 36 percent of admits is far under proportional representation,” she told NYT in an email. According to the paper, proportional representation would be much closer to having 50 percent of students be Latino considering that more than half of high school graduates in California are Latino.

“This has been an incredibly challenging time as many students have been making their college decision in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic,” UC President Janet Napolitano said in a statement. “UC continues to see increased admissions of underrepresented students as we seek to educate a diverse student body of future leaders. The incoming class will be one of our most talented and diverse yet, and UC is proud to invite them to join us.”

The university system recently did away with SAT/ACT requirements.

Some think that the university system eliminating the SAT/ACT requirements explains part of the uptick in Latino students. In May, the UC system announced that students would not be required to submit SAT or ACT scores for admission.

The standardized tests have long been accused of preventing minority and disadvantaged students from attending college.

The Compton Unified School District filed a lawsuit against the UC system in late 2019. The lawsuit, filed by four students and six community organizers, points out the racial bias of the tests that block disadvantaged and minority students from being admitted to college.

READ: In-Person Courses Have Been Canceled As Well As Recreational Activities, Now Students Are Protesting To Cancel SAT Exams Due To Coronavirus

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