In my last post , I discussed the term participant versus client. The other thing you may have heard discussed lately, if you’re an avid conference goer, is the issue of using “PHA” in workshops and presentations. On multiple occasions I have heard people who are living with HIV & AIDS argue that the term PHA should not be tossed around as often as it is. And I agree. Acronyms can make sense in certain context, like in a clinical sense, or in research, or grant proposals, but can be simply dehumanizing when applied to real people.
If we want to talk about people living with HIV & AIDS then let’s talk about people living with HIV & AIDS. I think that when we want to capture a group of people, it’s best to do it by starting with the word, “people.” If we start with that, at least we’re starting with a person. It might be people who live with HIV, or people who use injected drugs, or people who access our services. But whatever people do, or have, or say, they are people first.
One night I was lying in bed and found myself counting and comparing the syllables in “PHA” and “People living with HIV and AIDS.” (Hey, I mentioned right off the top that I am a geek – don’t judge me.) PHA has three syllables. People living with HIV and AIDS has 10.
Is seven syllables really worth dehumanizing someone?