Last year, 36 percent of new HIV/AIDS cases in Minnesota  were for patients under the age of 30. Paul Skrbec with St.Paul-based JustUs Health told the KMRS Community Connection that a recent study conducted by Merck Pharmaceuticals and Partners in Prevention found there remains a lot of misinformation about the disease among the young.

“One of the shocking statistics that came out of that, was that despite there being absolutely no risk of transmission of HIV through casual contact, more than a quarter of the folks that were HIV negative and millennials or younger said that they’ve avoided hugging people, or talking or being friends with someone who’s HIV positive,” said Skrbec. “And that’s just factually not accurate.”

December is National AIDS Awareness Month and Skrbec said the goal for those diagnosed with HIV is to get them to an Undetectable Viral Load, which is now possible with new medicines. Those who test negative but are in a high risk group can use a Prep prophylaxis on a daily basis, which has been effective in reducing transmission rates. Access to testing remains a priority, said Skrbec. Confidential testing is available at the Alexandria Planned Parenthood clinic. Information is also available at JustUsHealth.org, or with the AIDS Line at 800-248-2437.

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