Friday, May 8, 2009

Language in the Context of Children Affected by HIV/AIDS

World AIDS Orphans Day was celebrated on May 7th, and I think it's wonderful that so many are called to assist children who have been affected by HIV/AIDS. But...I have a problem.

I strongly object to the use of the term "AIDS orphans."

I believe the term "AIDS orphans" marginalizes millions of other vulnerable children who are also in need of assistance. I also think the term increases stigmatization and discrimination against children affected by the HIV/AIDS pandemic. As such, use of the phrase, particularly in the context of government-sponsored aid programs, violates the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child.

So, I suppose I would say that I support the spirit behind the day itself, but believe that the title "World AIDS Orphans Day" undermines that spirit.

Anyone interested in reading more about use of the term "AIDS orphans" and its potential negative consequences may find the following sites/articles useful:
I hope my readers will take this in the spirit in which it was intended, which was to foster dialogue about good and not-so-good terminology in the context of the HIV/AIDS pandemic. We have so many conversations about good and bad adoption language, and this seemed like a place where such a conversation might be warranted. As always, please feel free to disagree. We celebrate the First Amendment in this household.

5 comments:

jodes said...

Excellent post - well writen! To be honest, i never thought about it like that before... I'm so glad you opened my eyes a bit more.

Cindy said...

I think this is a great post! Thanks so much!

The Jabber said...

"I believe the term "AIDS orphans" marginalizes millions of other vulnerable children who are also in need of assistance. I also think the term increases stigmatization and discrimination against children affected by the HIV/AIDS pandemic."

It's unclear to me how or why either of these things are true, if they are, or even why you believe them to be true. The resources you linked didn't seem to explain any further other than to provide agreement on some points... and I, being a scientist, was looking for the data to back up the assertions. :)

Emily (ergent7) said...

I think I understand what you mean. But can you clarify?

Elise said...

Do you think the name "World Aids Orphans" is supposed to be a double-entendre?? like AIDS = helps?