December 1 marks the day that the world comes together to observe World AIDS Day. The day of observance, adopted globally in 1988, was the first ever global health day. Over 30 years later, we have come a long way to fighting the epidemic but we still have work to do to end it entirely. 

Ending HIV in the ‘80s & ‘90s

During the 1980s and ‘90s, the global and U.S. based fight against AIDS and HIV was nearly palpable with celebrities hosting fundraising concerts and wearing red ribbons on award shows and red carpets, politicians running campaigns on fighting the spread of the disease and communities suffering under it’s rampant, uninhibited spread. However, as time has moved forward and awareness and education helped curb the spread of HIV, the once loud outcry and effort to END HIV has dimmed into more of a hum in many communities. Because of this, it is more important, now more than ever, that we reignite our dedication to Ending HIV through education, testing, treatment and understanding within our communities. 

HIV Is Still Prevalent in The United States

According to, more than 1 million people in the United States are living with HIV. However, about 165,000 people (or 1 in 7) are not aware of their HIV diagnosis. 

Between 2014-2018, nearly 40,000 people in the U.S. were diagnosed with HIV annually. The numbers are staggering and an indication that there is still so much education to be done within our communities and especially with youth and young adults. To learn more about data, trends and statistics of HIV in the United States, click here

Educating Gen Z on HIV & AIDS

In order to educate Generation Z, we have to understand them. What is the Gen Z identity? Generation Z was born between 1996 and 2012. Another tell-tale sign of Gen Z is that they don't remember a time without high-speed internet and a computer in their home.

This generation is now approaching adolescence and adulthood but they don't have any memories of the '80s or 90s/. They do not have the same cultural understanding that Millennials and other generations do about the AIDS epidemic that began to plague the world during that time. This poses both a problem and an opportunity for outreach and engagement coordinators in the healthcare industry. On one end, Gen Z people do not have the natural concern and fear that generations before them had. They are not actively seeking out information in self-protection so they need to be taught at an early age. With that said, they also do not have the misinformation that previous generations had so the stigma isn't as strong to overcome.

Gen Z has a shorter attention span than Millennials, requiring marketers to convey brand messages in less than eight seconds before they move on, according to a marketing survey reported by Forbes. However, Gen Z is capable of absorbing more information through cell phones and technology and is proven to be more apt at multitasking and average “5 screens and Millennials averaging 3”. Even more importantly, Gen Z is looking for authentic connections that they feel as “real” in their life and are more likely to share information with their friends and family. 

With proper education, outreach and prevention tactics, we can empower this next generation to take sexual health into their own hands and bring an end to the epidemic.

Sexual Health Engagement Tactics for Gen Z

So what is the best way to engage Gen Z? Through a combination of digital education and in-person experiences and takeaways, the highly social Generation Z can be won over and influenced. 85% of this generation claims to be addicted to their cell phone, so start adding in social advertising to coincide with traditional community events and outreach. HealthMerch is dedicated to creating authentic messaging, designs, and products that Generation Z and others will appreciate, use and share. Creating a well-thought out, integrated marketing outreach can be the key to a successful World AIDS Day fundraiser or outreach initiative.

We recommend our END HIV campaign, an edgy new take that removes the ribbons and pushes the envelope and can be easily integrated into a digital campaign. Mailer kits or giveaway bags with these products are great incentives to engage Gen Z and millennials in social media fundraisers and online contests. These contests can in-turn be a source of user generated content that will help boost your organizations social media presence as well. Gen Z loves to see lifestyle photos and videos, so bring HealthMerch products and swag into the real life experiences at your in-person outreach events and be sure to share photos and videos on YouTube, Instagram and Tik Tok. Gen Z overwhelmingly acknowledges that YouTube is a favorite website and Facebook and Instagram optimize for natively uploaded video content, so the more video content you share with your campaign products and swag, the better!

The HealthMerch Solution to Ending HIV In Your Community

HealthMerch is composed of marketing, design and customer solution specialists who are ready to work with you one-on-one to design innovative products that will help educate  and engage. We work with you to effectively optimize your budget. Need ideas on how to better engage your audience or what products might be best? We are here to help. Connect with us today by contacting or calling at 866-704-8525.