The National Association of People Living with HIV/AIDS wants people, particularly the media, to stop using the terms -˜AIDS’ and -˜PLWHA’ in favour of words with less stigma.
The peak body of organisations representing HIV positive people in Australia indicated it might also drop -˜AIDS’ from its title, but will keep the acronym NAPWA.
Misuse of the word -˜AIDS’ in media reports, like -˜AIDS victims and carriers’, were insulting and contributed to stigma and discrimination, it said.
It’s time we looked at the language we use around HIV. Some of it, such as -˜HIV/AIDS’, has served its time. -˜HIV’ alone is adequate as it encompasses all stages of the disease, including AIDS.
It also recommended the long-standing term PLWHA be replaced with PLHIV for people living with HIV. However, four of its state member organisations still use PLWHA as their name.
The NSW organisation changed its name to Positive Life in 2007.
It’s contentious because some people relate more strongly with the term AIDS Â-” people who’ve had the condition for a long time, maybe had an AIDS diagnosis before the treatments, Positive Life spokesman Rob Lake told Sydney Star Observer.
But he supported moving away from the HIV/AIDS dichotomy.
We think it’s important to communicate the full range of people’s experience. It reflects the fact that people with HIV having a difficult time can happen for a range of reasons, not just those who have had an AIDS-defining illness.
PLWHA Victoria acting president Paul Baines said although it may be difficult for some people to get used to abandoning the term, the NAPWA guidelines are in line with United Nations policy.
We’ve got to collectively decide that on the whole it is probably better to change the way we speak about this.