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[afro-nets] HIV terminology guidelines from UNAIDS

HIV terminology guidelines from UNAIDS

The term HIV/AIDS has been used for a long time to cover everything to do with 
HIV infection.  It is really quite inappropriate. AIDS is a syndrome that can 
result in death.   HIV is the virus that infects people.  It is important that 
we think what we are saying when we are talking about HIV or AIDS.

In May 2006 UNAIDS produced editors notes for authors to guide the use of 
expressions related to HIV and AIDS as well as other issues related to the 

The document can be found on the UNAIDS website under 
publications.  It is called UNAIDS Editors' notes and was published 11/05/06.  
If you can't find it, I can send you a pdf directly.

Comments and suggestions will be gratefully received and will be considered for 
future updates. They can be sent to Alistair Craik (

Beverley Snell


Extracts from the document:  UNAIDS' Editors' Notes for authors (May 2006)

As language shapes beliefs and may influence behaviours, considered use of 
appropriate language has the power to strengthen the response to AIDS. UNAIDS 
is now pleased to make these Notes freely available to all. We want the Notes 
to be a living, evolving document. Comments and suggestions sent to Alistair 
Craik ( will be gratefully received and will be 
considered for future updates.

Summary of important current preferred usages
Old usage -- Current preferred usage
Commercial sex work, -- Sex work or commercial sex, or the sale of sexual 
Developing countries, -- Low and middle income countries
Direct sex workers, -- Brothel-based sex workers or formal sex workers
Indirect sex workers, -- Non-brothel-based sex workers or informal sex workers
Fight against AIDS, -- Response to AIDS
High(er) risk groups, -- Key populations at higher risk*
HIV/AIDS, -- HIV unless specifically referring to AIDS
HIV/AIDS, -- AIDS diagnosis; HIV-related disease
HIV/AIDS epidemic, -- AIDS epidemic or HIV epidemic
HIV/AIDS prevalence, -- HIV prevalence
HIV/AIDS prevention, -- HIV prevention
HIV/AIDS testing, -- HIV testing
People living with HIV/AIDS, -- People living with HIV*
Prostitute, -- Sex worker
Prostitution, -- Term to use in respect to juvenile prostitution, otherwise use 
sex work
Intravenous drug user, -- Injecting drug user*
Most vulnerable to infection, --  Most likely to be exposed to HIV (unless 
specifically referring to vulnerability)
Prevalence rates, -- Prevalence
Risky sex, -- Unprotected sex
Sharing (needles, syringes, etc.), -- Using contaminated injecting equipment 
(if referring to HIV transmission)*
Sharing (needles, syringes, etc.), --Using non-sterile injecting equipment (if 
referring to risk of exposure to HIV)*
Vulnerable groups, -- Vulnerable populations or populations most likely to be 
exposed to HIV or populations at higher risk of exposure


Beverley Snell
Senior Fellow
Centre for International Health
Macfarlane Burnet Institute for Medical Research & Public Health
GPO Box 2284, Melbourne 3001 Australia

Telephone +613 9282 2115 / 9282 2275
Fax +61 3 9282 2144  or  9282 2100
Time zone: 10 hours ahead of GMT.

Site: Alfred Medical Research & Education Precinct (AMREP),
85 Commercial Road, Prahran 3181

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