THE Australian Defence Force (ADF) has admitted it incorrectly used the term AIDS on its recruitment website.
On the ‘Health & Fitness’ page of ADF’s recruitment website, information about health testing required to be taken before enlisting in the armed forces included being tested for “HIV (the AIDS virus)”.
The HIV Media Guide explains why it is incorrect and potentially stigmatising to use the terms AIDS rather than HIV.
“The distinction between HIV and AIDS is often misunderstood. HIV (human immunodeficiency virus) is the virus that can lead to the condition called AIDS (acquired immune deficiency syndrome),” the guide explains.
“Although these conditions are linked, the terms refer to specific and separate diagnoses and should not be used interchangeably. The conflation of HIV with AIDS is partly a hangover from the early years of the epidemic, when people who contracted HIV often progressed quickly to an AIDS diagnosis, and had a poor life expectancy.
“Many people living with HIV find the use of the term ‘AIDS’ stigmatising because it is often used pejoratively and does not reflect their experience.”
Living Positive Victoria CEO Brent Allan said it’s really important that we do not confuse HIV with AIDS.
“Both terms have significantly different meanings and confusing to two leads to a confused public. It’s clear what they mean is HIV,” he said.
Star Observer approached the ADF to ask why it was using the term AIDS on its website and it admitted its mistake.
“The reference to HIV as the AIDS virus was inaccurate. Thank you for drawing our attention to this, the website has now been updated,” a Defence spokesperson said.
The website has been updated to inform potential recruits that “you will be tested for a variety of viral infections”.
Allan was pleased with the ADF’s swift response.
“We welcome the changes made by the Australian Defence Force that eliminates the confusion between HIV and AIDS,” he said.
“We’ll continue to combat misconceptions of the virus and educate the greater community whenever and wherever we can.”
People living with HIV can not serve in the ADF because “individuals who require ongoing highly specialised health care and medication management are considered medically unfit to join the ADF”.
“Defence has a duty of care to ensure its members are not placed at an increased risk of harm or injury under normal conditions of service,” the Defence spokesperson said.
“As such it is essential that entrants to the ADF do not have any medical condition which may be exacerbated in a military environment. These entry standards are in place protect the health and safety of the individual”.