The People First Charter launched in July 2021, during the Berlin International AIDS Society Conference, to promote person first HIV & Sexual Health language.
Language matters. People living with or at risk of HIV experience stigma & discrimination and the wrong language perpetuates this.
The HIV field is rife with terms laden with stigma & blame:
As the World Health Organisation states:
"Positive, inclusive language creates new opportunities for advancement and collaboration, instead of exclusively focusing on ending existing problems".
Our language should match our goals: to ensure all people living with at risk of HIV and sexually transmitted infections (STIs) are supported to enjoy the highest attainable standards of health, as is their fundamental human right.
We ask policy makers, researchers, conferences, journals, & care providers to follow our terminology guidelines & other examples of best practice through:
Our goal is to help promote appropriate language throughout health care, science, & beyond!
Ultimately we hope all communities will use preferred language, but first we must embed consistent, appropriate terminology within our own sector. First our own field...then the world!
Sign up to learn more about how to commit to the People First Charter & help us ensure promote the use of the right words in the right way.
If you are able to translate the guidance please get in touch!
If you hear or see language that is not people first, please (kindly & gently) encourage the use of People First terminology. We ALL get it wrong sometimes and it takes TIME to embed change.
We must also be mindful of the challenges of presenting or publishing in a language that is not your first language.
Person-first language simply puts people before their condition, recognising that people are people, and not defined by their condition. In HIV care we should avoid terms like 'HIV-infected people' and use 'people living with HIV'
Some other condition areas also prefer person-first language, for example"
Other conditions areas prefer identity-first language (see below).
Some communities feel that person-first language separates people from their condition when it may not be possible or appropriate to do so.
For example, many people in the deaf community see deafness as part of their identity, as do many autistic people. Identity-first language often includes 'people' or 'person' so arguably is still person-centred.
There are no fixed rules and what is considered 'correct' will vary by condition, over time, and between individuals.
What is critical is to ask the communities with a given condition or characteristic how they prefer to be described and to revisit this regularly.
We will never get it right all of the time but open discussion about preferred terminology will drive understanding and change.
Journal of the British HIV Association & European AIDS Clinical Society
Leading UK association representing HIV care professionals www.bhiva.org
Journal of the British Association of Sexual Health & HIV https://journals.sagepub.com/home/std
Pan-European specialist organisation with the aim of reducing HIV disease burden across Europe
NAM provides independent, accurate and accessible information about HIV: www.aidsmap.com
Enhancing the health & social wellbeing of children young people & young adults living with HIV: www.chiva.org.uk
A specialist pharmaceutical company 100% dedicated to HIV medicines and research and focused on people living with HIV and AIDS: https://viivhealthcare.com/
A global, scientific organization dedicated to paediatric research: https://penta-id.org/
Leading UK organisation for Sexual Health care & eduction www.bashh.org
World's largest association of HIV/AIDS professionals www.iasociety.org
A global provider of innovative & state-of-the-art scientific congresses & medical education programs on infectious diseases
Promoting research on sexually transmitted diseases & facilitating timely exchange of information among research investigators.
The UK Community Advisory Board if a network for community HIV treatment advocate across the UK https://ukcab.net/
Promoting excellence in the pharmaceutical care of people living with HIV
Gilead is a biopharmaceutical company that has pursued and achieved breakthroughs in medicine for more than three decades, with the goal of creating a healthier world for all people
A global group of medical journals, publishing the best science for better lives
An international journal for clinical research in HIV/AIDS with a focus on patient advocacy.
Clinical Infectious Diseases Call to Action May 2023 (pdf)Download
Lancet HIV Editorial on Putting People First October 2023 (pdf)Download
NHIVNA Best Practice, The Language of HIV 2019 (pdf)Download
UNAIDS Terminology Guidelines 2015 (pdf)Download
HIV Medicine Language Matters October 2022 (pdf)Download
A great summary of why language matters!
Excellent page on the importance of language.
Brilliant blog on IAS's achievement in removing 'HIV-infected' from the 2023 conference
The PeopleFIirstCharter was founded and is led by Laura Waters, an HIV & Sexual Health doctor based in London, UK, alongside founding members who co-wrote the 2021 and 2022 versions of the terminology guidance:
A formal Steering Committee was created in May 2023 including the above-named plus:
Support is provided by colleagues across the world who help promote the site & translate the terminology guidance - thank you!
PeopleFirstCharter (PFC) is a voluntary & entirely independent project led and self-funded by Dr Laura Waters.
Endorsing organisations support the principles of PFC & promote it's use where possible, For example, HIV Medicine links to our terminology guidance in their instructions for reviewers. Endorsers are invited to suggest additions & amendments to the guidance, as is anyone with an interest in or passion for using the right language! Endorsers provide no financial support.