Stigma hurts, but your words can heal. This quick guide will teach you what to say to help break the stigma.
What is HIV stigma?
Negative attitudes and beliefs about people with HIV.
How does stigma hurt?
Stigma often leads to discrimination.
Stigma makes people feel isolated and ashamed, and can keep them from getting the help they need.
1 in 4 people living with HIV in the U.S. are women.
Of women living with HIV in the U.S., women of color have the highest rates of HIV-related deaths.
Women of all ages, races and ethnicities can get HIV.
Reducing stigma can encourage women to reach out to get the care they need.
HIV means human immunodeficiency virus. If left untreated, HIV can lead to AIDS (acquired immunodeficiency syndrome).
Don’t say: AIDS when referring to the human immunodeficiency (HIV) virus
Instead, say: HIV
💬 Did you know HIV can be controlled with the right medical care?
A person is much more than a medical diagnosis.
Don’t say: Patients, victims, sufferers, contaminated, sick, positives, HIVers, carriers
Instead, say: People/person with HIV, people/person with AIDS, people/person living with HIV and/or AIDS
💬 There are lots of ways that people living with HIV can protect their partners.
Stigmatizing language turns people against each other. Use your words to break down barriers.
Don’t say: To battle HIV and/or AIDS, war against HIV/AIDS, catch or pass on HIV
Instead, say: Response to HIV and AIDS, be diagnosed with, acquire or transmit HIV
💬 Awareness is a big part of the response to HIV and AIDS.
Precise terms are better for sharing accurate information.
Don’t say: Unprotected sex
Instead, say: Sex without a condom
💬 Having sex without a condom can put you at risk for getting HIV.
Being general about risk can lead to blame where it doesn’t belong.
Don’t say: Risk, risky behavior, high-risk groups, drug users
Instead, say: Populations with a high [rate], people with [specific] risk factors, people who inject drugs
💬 People who inject drugs are at high risk of getting HIV.
If you’re being treated for HIV and your viral loads are undetectable, you can not transmit the virus through sex.
Don’t say: If you’re not infected with HIV, you can’t transmit the virus
Instead, say: People who have an undetectable viral load do not transmit the infection through sex
💬 People with undetectable viral loads can not transmit the virus through sex.
The words we say matter.
Learn HIV basics so you know the facts.
Choose language that breaks stigma.
And speak up about what you know.
This resource was created with support from Gilead.