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|
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: