Terminology is something we use daily, it has the power to inspire or offend in equal measure. I once received severe criticism after suggesting that it was possibly time to rename HIV in the hope that a new name would generate fresh curiosity from the public to become more educated about the condition and questioned if it would also help reduce stigma in the long run, clearly I was not saying it would be the end of stigma completely but a couple of people seemed to think that was the suggestion. In my opinion words have real power to them, not the kind handed down to someone in authority, real power that can create real energy in the universe, sometimes that can be a positive energy that advances humanity and other times it can be negative energy that holds us back, they say a picture says a thousand words but when did you last fit 1,000 words on an 8 x 6? Words and writing, for me, are the ultimate form of expression that can be projected in many ways such as an article, book, poem, blog, song, script for theatre or film, the list is endless.
Personally I dislike being called HIV positive or people using the term being HIV positive. People are not called diabetic positive, epilepsy positive and so on which for me sets people living with HIV apart from others who are living with a medical condition, but that is just my personal preference. Somebody referring to themselves as HIV positive is something that appears in my newsfeed daily, do I get angry about it? No, because in a world of such a large population, with such a variety of terminology and words (Oxford just added another 1,000 to their dictionary this week) it is inevitable that someone will use a particular word I dislike. Now if someone reads this blog and directs the term at me in future knowing I dislike it, that would make me angry and I would probably not think that person to be very kind but in general I don’t believe people mean to offend me when they use this term HIV positive anymore than I would mean to offend someone if I were to use a term they dislike. Sometimes in life that is what it has to come back to, whether or not the person meant to offend because we all have our preferences when it comes to the terminology society uses and no singular person should expect their preference to be put ahead of other peoples, that’s not an equal society or sustainable.
If I ever use a word you dislike please understand, the same way as I will for you, that it is not my intention to offend or annoy you and please do not think me any less a human, as I will not you, for expressing yourself the way you are comfortable.