Less than half of Americans feel knowledgeable about HIV and there is still a lack of awareness about the virus, a GLAAD study has revealed.

GLAAD has released its second annual State of HIV Stigma Study, which is a national survey of US adults that measures the attitudes towards HIV/AIDS and those living with HIV.

In a decline from the previous year, only 48% of adults in America feel that they are knowledgeable about HIV.

Almost all of those surveyed (87%) felt that there is still a stigma around HIV, with less than half (42%) knowing that people living with the virus cannot transmit it while on proper treatment.

Perhaps most shockingly, around half (53%) of non-LGBTQ+ respondents said they would be uncomfortable interacting with a medical professional who has HIV.

A similar trend was found with other professions, as 43% would feel discomfort around a hairstylist or barber and around one-third (35%) would feel the same around a teacher with HIV.

“We continue to do our work of educating folks on living with, the treatment of, and prevention of HIV/AIDS, but a cultural stigma and ignorance still exists for so many people,” said Queer Eye star Jonathan Van Ness.

Van Ness, who is living with HIV, added: “A lack of compassion and stigma will continue to allow HIV/AIDS to hurt people in all communities until everyone in every community prioritizes ending the judgment and cruelty that is preventing healing for everyone affected by the HIV/AIDS pandemic.”

GLAAD Media Consultant and Researcher Dr. Jonathan P. Higgins studied the impact of media coverage on HIV stigma and found that celebrities and those with large platforms can influence the spread of misinformation about HIV.

On 4 August, GLAAD and 10 HIV advocacy organisations released an open letter to rap artist DaBaby, calling for a private meeting to discuss his recent inaccurate and harmful comments about HIV that worsen stigma.

As of 20 August, more than 100 additional supporting organizations advocating for HIV education and people living with HIV have signed onto the letter.

PrEP, a medication that can help prevent people from catching HIV, became free on the NHS in England towards the end of 2020 – more information can be found here.

GLAAD, which is the world’s largest LGBTQ+ media advocacy organisation, conducted the State of HIV Stigma Study between 14 January to 29 January 2021 through an online survey of 2,517 US adults aged 18 and over.