Monthly Archives: February 2016

Preferred Language 101

We use language in everything we do and the language that we use may allow others to be stereotypical when it comes to us who are affected by HIV. People copycat the language that is used, first by us, and then from the media, doctors and other people that we admire.

Most of the time language is used incorrectly, sometimes on purpose and sometimes by accident -thereby lack of education. It also carries stereotypical factors and concepts.  This language alienates those affected by these messages.

Since the beginning of HIV and AIDS we have seen and heard stigmatizing messages, which change the way we feel about ourselves.  We say we are trying to improve this, but people are still doing the same thing. In order to use better language, we must become more educated and share what we have learned. Terminology is important–from the words we speak to the illustrations that we paint.

Recently, many groups have surfaced that explicitly discuss new and upcoming HIV-related terms. According to some articles, “Preferred Language” helps remove judgment from the individual and rather, focuses on the individual.

There are some words that people use that may be demeaning and cause stigma, and then there are the “Preferred” words that may be used instead that are less harmful, with a meaning that is more understandable.  Try changing your terminology, which can change the way you think.

Stigmatizing words Preferred Language
HIV patient Person living with HIV
Died from AIDS Died from AIDS- related illness
HIV Virus  HIV (otherwise it is a redundant use of HIV)
Prostitution or prostitute  Sex worker or sale of sexual services
Became infected Contracted/Acquired


Can you think of some stigmatizing language along with its ‘Preferred Language” that can be used instead? 

For further information, check out the discussion in Poz:

or more terms at:


The Focusing of Choice

Goals are the passing landmarks that indeed tell us that we are moving… goals commit us to life.

HIV has our attention, but should it have ALL of our attention? Sometimes, we make HIV all that we see in our horizon. But that is a choice.  We can choose to focus only on HIV or we can choose to focus on our dreams and goals separately from HIV.  We all need to see that what we focus on, is our choice.  If we choose to focus on the positive lessons of HIV, it can teach us that we can discover dreams that we would like to look forward to.

What are our goals? Can we write them down? Are my goals reachable? What have I been focusing on? Have I been exercising my right to choose? Have I been going along with what media has been telling me to go along with? Are my goals too easy or are they challenging? What do I really want to be? How do I really want to live my life? What did I really want to be as a child? So what are my DREAMS?

Think about your life’s purpose and know that you have choices. Choose a purpose and goals that ring true in your heart.

Self-love is the BEST love

As we reflect on love and loving each other in this month of February, it’s important to also focus on loving our self.

“You can’t pour from an empty cup. Take care of yourself first.” – Anonymous

One of the peer advocates shared her sentiments about loving herself this upcoming holiday:

I’m not going to lie, I struggle with depression sometimes. Everyday is not perfect, but I understand that in order to love others or be able to help them, I have to love myself first.

When asked what self-love means to her and why it is important, she replies:

I define self-love as the ability of combining my mind, body and spirit with the over-arching goal of being well. Sometimes, I take a Zumba class when I’m feeling down or counseling to seek the help I may possibly need. “The past is history, the future is a mystery, and today is a gift, that is why you call it present.” We have to spend time focusing on the now and enjoying ourselves now.

When asked about plans for this upcoming Valentine’s Day that would promote self-love, she suggested:

Going to get a pedicure/ manicure, running a nice bubble bath, and/or getting a massage. Whatever feels good to you- do it. Take that time out for yourself!

Now the question is posed to you, what is your definition of loving yourself?

I am my Brother/Sister’s Keeper: Fight HIV/AIDS

As February commences, we all have a lot to celebrate: Valentine’s Day, Black History Month and the fact that we have a 29th day this month!

With all this in mind, we must also remember that this month, our community will also be celebrating National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day on February 7, 2016! According to the Center for Disease and Control, in 2014, 44% of new HIV diagnoses in the United States were among African Americans showing that this community is disproportionately affected by HIV/AIDS. Now in its 16th year, the national HIV testing and treatment community mobilization initiative focuses on the Black community in the United States.

2016 Theme:

I am my Brother/ Sister’s Keeper: Fight HIV/AIDS

Awareness Day includes four areas of focus, urging people to get:

1. Educated: Inform Black communities about the basics of HIV and AIDS.

2. Tested: Get tested and know your status. This supports the prevention of HIV, specifically those who are considered high risk.

3. Involved: Host and participate in Black Awareness Day events in the Black community– from organizing testing events to supporting AIDS organizations and providers.

4. Treated: Connect those who have been diagnosed with HIV to treatment and care. This will keep people healthy, living longer and reducing the chances of transmission.

How will you encourage people from ALL communities to get involved and stop the spread of HIV/AIDS?

For more information, please visit: