2015 UNAIDS Terminology Guidelines
Analysis of evidentiary value
This report was issued by the Secretariat of the Joint Programme in the United Nations on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS)–a coalition of 11 UN agencies and the World Bank helping to coordinate the global AIDS response by engaging with governments, civil society and people living with HIV.
UNAIDS is overseen by a Programme Coordinating Board composed of representatives from 22 geographically diverse countries; the 11 UN agencies, including the World Health Organization, UN Women, and the United Nations Population Fund; and five nongovernmental organisations. UNAIDS is the only UN entity that has representatives of civil society on its board.
This document lists and defines preferred language that is central to a rights-based AIDS response. To do so, it highlights stigmatising and scientifically inaccurate terms like “AIDS test,” counters them with intergovernmental evidence, and then offers more inclusive, accurate alternatives.
Used as precedent
“A human rights-based approach is a conceptual framework for the HIV response that is grounded in international human rights norms and principles, both in terms of process (e.g. right to participation, equality and accountability) and outcome (e.g. rights to health, life and scientific progress). HRBA addresses discriminatory practices and unjust distributions of power that impede progress in the HIV response by strengthening the capacities of rights-holders to claim their rights and the ability of duty-bearers to meet their obligations.” (p. 28)
“UNAIDS considers gay men and other men who have sex with men, sex workers and their clients, transgender people, people who inject drugs and prisoners and other incarcerated people as the main key population groups. These populations often suffer from punitive laws or stigmatizing policies, and they are among the most likely to be exposed to HIV. Their engagement is critical to a successful HIV response everywhere—they are key to the epidemic and key to the response. Countries should define the specific populations that are key to their epidemic and response based on the epidemiological and social context. The term key populations at higher risk also may be used more broadly, referring to additional populations that are most at risk of acquiring or transmitting HIV, regardless of the legal and policy environment.” (p. 31)