HIV/AIDS Preferred Language Guide
The provided guide was created for and by People Living with HIV in order to address stigma related to HIV/AIDS. The information in this guide was developed and gathered by the following organizations:
HIV infected person
HIV or AIDS patient, AIDS or HIV Carrier
Positives or HIVers
Person living with HIV, PLHIV. Do not use "infected" when referring to a person. Use People First Language, which emphasizes the person, not their diagnosis.
Died of AIDS, to die of AIDS
Died of AIDS-related illness, Died of AIDS-related complications or end of stage HIV
HIV (AIDS is a diagnosis not a virus - it cannot be transmitted)
There is no medical definition for this phrase - simply use the term AIDS or Stage 3 HIV
This is redundant; use HIV.
Zero new infections
Zero new HIV acquisitions/transmissions
HIV transmissions, diagnosed with HIV/PLHIV
Living with/diagnosed with HIV, contracted/acquired HIV
Number of infections
Number diagnosed with HIV/number of HIV acquisitions
Contracted, acquired, diagnosed with
Infant exposed to HIV
Serodifferent, magnetic, or mixed status couple
Mother to child transmission
Vertical transmission/perinatal transmission
Victim, Innocent Victim, Sufferer, contaminated, infected
Person living with HIV, survivor, warrior (Do not use "infected" when referring to a person)
Children orphaned by loss of parents/guardians who died of AIDS related complications
To catch AIDS, To contract AIDS, Transmit AIDS, To catch HIV
An AIDS diagnosis, developed AIDS, to contract HIV (AIDS is a diagnosis, which cannot be passed from one person to the next)
Prostitute or prostitution
Sex worker, sale of sexual services, transactional sex
This a value judgement and should be avoided instead use "having multiple partners"
Condomless sex with PrEP, Condomless sex without PrEP, sex not protected by condoms, sex not protected by antiretroviral prevention methods
Death Sentence, Fatal condition or life-threatening condition
A serious health issue, chronic health condition or manageable health for people who have access to care and treatment
"Tainted" blood; "dirty" needles
Blood containing HIV; shared needles, shared syringes
Clean, as in "I am clean are you?"
Referring to yourself or others as being "clean" suggestions that those living with HIV are dirty. Avoid!
"a drug that prevents HIV infection"
a drug that prevents transmission of HIV
End HIV, End AIDS
End HIV transmission, Be specific: are we ending HIV or AIDS?
Why is it important to use preferred language?
Language regarding HIV can either empower or stigmatize a person living with HIV. Although a term may be correct or clinically accurate, it can also negatively impact a person's self-worth and confidence. Over the years, there have been growing concerns with the stigma attached to these terms. It is important to use preferred language in order empower people living with HIV and reduce stigma around HIV.