In June 2021, the United Nations Gen­eral Assem­bly met for its fourth high-level meet­ing (HLM) on AIDS to review five years of both suc­cess and fail­ure since its pre­vi­ous meet­ing and set the course of the global response to HIV for the next five years. Depart­ing from prece­dents and set­tled posi­tions of pre­vi­ous HLMs and other meet­ings of the Gen­eral Assem­bly, a small group of coun­tries sought to remove lan­guage on rights, decrim­i­nal­i­sa­tion and harm reduc­tion from the draft Polit­i­cal Dec­la­ra­tion. Although the attempt was unsuc­cess­ful, this expe­ri­ence is emblem­atic of a larger threat posed by a revi­sion­ist strat­egy for sub­vert­ing the rights-affirm­ing and evi­dence-based foun­da­tions of the global HIV response.


The HIV Pol­icy Lab devel­oped the pro­to­type of this Com­pendium dur­ing the 2021 HLM. Its exten­sion at the ini­tia­tive of GNP+ and Aids­fonds, the NGO co-con­ven­ers for the HLM, is a tes­ta­ment to its con­tri­bu­tion dur­ing that meet­ing and need for more resources to sup­port Mem­ber States in strate­gis­ing, coor­di­nat­ing and advanc­ing the defence and expan­sion of our global com­mit­ments in favour of rights-based responses to HIV and related sex­ual and repro­duc­tive health chal­lenges. The Com­pendium aims to hold nations account­able for their past com­mit­ments and assist del­e­ga­tions, civil soci­ety and oth­ers in fram­ing argu­ments for pro­tect­ing and advanc­ing rights-affirm­ing and evi­dence-based lan­guage.


The HIV Lan­guage Com­pendium meets this need by pro­vid­ing a curated com­pi­la­tion of inter­na­tion­ally agreed upon lan­guage that pro­vides prece­dents for the use, proper inter­pre­ta­tion and sig­nif­i­cance of con­cepts and terms cru­cial for an evi­dence-based and rights-affirm­ing response to HIV. The Com­pendium is a highly prac­ti­cal resource for those in the cen­tre and on the side­lines of mul­ti­lat­eral nego­ti­a­tions includ­ing diplo­mats, inter­na­tional civil ser­vants, lead­ers from affected com­mu­ni­ties, and civil soci­ety advo­cates. By estab­lish­ing the lan­guage that mem­ber states have already been agreed to within the United Nations sys­tem, the Com­pendium will com­pose both a bul­wark against efforts to reverse the tide of progress and a beach­head for advanc­ing the inter­na­tional con­sen­sus on sex­ual and repro­duc­tive health rights.


The Com­pendium is founded on research and analy­sis on Mem­ber State agree­ment on the use of key lan­guage in meet­ings of the Gen­eral Assem­bly and other UN organs and gov­er­nance bod­ies as well as in the human rights sys­tem and the offi­cial pub­li­ca­tions of UN sec­re­tari­ats. These selec­tions are cat­e­gorised by topic (e.g., gen­der equal­ity), source type (e.g., inter­gov­ern­men­tal evi­dence), and util­ity (i.e., as evi­dence or prece­dent). The first sec­tion, why lan­guage mat­ters, goes into greater depth on the pur­pose and use of the Com­pendium as well as its under­ly­ing con­cepts and the method­ol­ogy used in con­struct­ing it.


This Com­pendium will be extended iter­a­tively to encom­pass more key lan­guage, evi­dence, and oppo­si­tion lan­guage. If you have com­ments on its struc­ture or sug­ges­tions for the con­tent of the next edi­tion of the Com­pendium, please reach out to us at pol­i­cy­lab@george­

The HIV Pol­icy Lab Team

a note on this book

This book was designed using Matthew But­t­er­ick’s pub­lish­ing sys­tem, Pollen. The font used through­out is his Heliotrope.