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National Survey Finds U.S. Teens Don't Feel at Risk for HIV and AIDS and Signals Need for More Education

Feature Length Documentary About HIV/AIDS Impact on Youth Worldwide to Help Generate Awareness and Stem the Spread of HIV Among a Complacent Generation

NEW YORK, NY -- (Marketwired) -- 07/25/14 -- Today, the MAC AIDS Fund, the heart and soul of MAC Cosmetics, released the results of a survey(1) conducted nationwide in the United States to explore teen behaviors, perceptions and awareness of HIV/AIDS. The findings are surprising from uncovering gaps in education and issues surrounding stigma to the fact that the majority of teens do not feel at risk for the disease. Because youths (ages 10-24) are the only population where AIDS death rates are still rising globally(2), the MAC AIDS Fund conducted this survey to garner insights leading up to the release of its upcoming HIV/AIDS documentary film, "It's Not Over," produced by award-winning filmmaker Andrew Jenks, designed to reach young people worldwide.

Completed in June 2014 by Kelton Research, the results of the MAC AIDS Fund survey show that nearly nine in ten (88%) American teens believe they are not at risk of contracting HIV or AIDS in their lifetime. Nearly all teens (93%) admit that they would be nervous to find out they had HIV or AIDS, but when asked which type of behavior would put their health at risk, less than one third of teens (31%) say this is true of having unprotected sex.

These results are alarming because nearly half (46.8%) of U.S. high-school students have had sexual intercourse and about half of those students used a condom (59.1%), based on a 2013 CDC report on youth risk behavior. Moreover, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, nearly half of the 20 million new cases of sexually transmitted diseases each year are accounted for by young people ages 15-to 24-years-old.

"The MAC AIDS Fund believes that the end of AIDS is possible, but to do so, it is critical that we reach and educate a younger generation that has grown complacent with the disease," said Nancy Mahon, Global Executive Director, MAC AIDS Fund. "Through this survey and our new documentary, we hope to make HIV/AIDS part of the mainstream conversation so that youth globally become more aware of the disease and stop the spread of the epidemic."

In addition to understanding the disease, education could help minimize the stigma that exists for American teens. When putting themselves in the shoes of someone with HIV or AIDS, one in two teens worries that others would be afraid of them (50%) or not want to be their friend (47%). Most admit they would keep their HIV status a secret, not telling friends (89%) or a teacher, mentor or counselor (81%), and one third (33%) would not tell anyone at all. These concerns may stem from teens' own feelings and impressions about those living with HIV or AIDS. In fact, if a close friend or classmate contracted HIV, less than four in ten would want to spend time with this person (35%) or talk to them to make them feel better (37%). In fact, only one half (51%) admit that they would treat this person normally.

In the U.S., nearly two-thirds of teens (71%) have talked about HIV or AIDS with someone in their lives, with parents (60%) and teachers (43%) being the most common sources. However, when it comes to getting accurate information, only a quarter of teens (25%) think their teacher provides accurate information, citing a doctor or nurse (59%) as the most trusted source. Not surprisingly, those who have discussed HIV or AIDS in their lifetime are more knowledgeable than those who have not, understanding HIV is a virus (65% vs. 53%) and realizing they could be at risk in their lives (13% vs. 8%). Moreover, teens who have talked about the disease are more likely to understand the major risk factors, such as not sharing needles (71% vs. 62%) and having unprotected sex (34% vs. 24%).

These results signal an urgent need for more comprehensive education among U.S. teens both at school and home. The MAC AIDS Fund hopes to reopen an important dialogue around HIV/AIDS through a new feature length documentary "It's Not Over" that will tell authentic, personal stories of young people from around the world whose lives are affected by HIV/AIDS. Set to release this fall, the documentary characterizes HIV in a completely new way and aims to serve as a wakeup call to teens globally, translating entertainment into education and apathy into action.

The MAC AIDS Fund, the heart and soul of MAC Cosmetics, was established in 1994 to support men, women and children affected by HIV/AIDS globally. MAF is a pioneer in HIV/AIDS funding, providing financial support to organizations working with underserved regions and populations. Recently recognized by Funders Concerned About AIDS as the top corporate giver in the arena and the number one philanthropic funder of domestic U.S. HIV/AIDS work, MAF is committed to addressing the link between poverty and HIV/AIDS by supporting diverse organizations around the world that provide a wide range of services to people living with HIV/AIDS. To date, MAF has raised more than $315 million (U.S.) exclusively through the sale of MAC's VIVA GLAM Lipstick and Lipglass donating 100 percent of the sale price to fight HIV/AIDS. For more information, visit www.macaidsfund.org.

About the Survey
The MAC AIDS Fund U.S. teen survey was conducted by Kelton Research from May 22 to June 5, 2014 among 1,039 nationally representative American teens ages 12-17, using an email invitation and an online survey. The results of any sample are subject to sampling variation. The magnitude of the variation is measurable and is affected by the number of interviews and the level of the percentages expressing the results. For this particular study, the chances are 95 to 100 that the survey results does not vary, plus or minus, but more than 3.1 percentage points from the result that would be obtained if interviews had been conducted with all persons in the universe represented by the sample. The margin of error for any subgroups will be slightly higher.

(1) A national survey among 1,039 young people ages 12-17 years old in the United States
(2) UNAIDS 2012

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Media Contact:
Andrew Pray
[email protected]

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