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“The only thing necessary for these diseases to the triumph is for good people and governments to do nothing.”



 The Pulse Opinion Poll -

Taking the PULSE of the social and economic international development community on major development issues.


Comments - HIV instead of AIDS

Has the word "AIDS", with the help of communicators, become too associated with stigma and finality? Does the all-encompassing term HIV convey hope and possibility? With fewer people developing the clinical manifestations of AIDS due to the use of ARV drugs, will the word "AIDS" still be adequate for care efforts? Isn't the existence of two words an unnecessary complication? Shouldn't we refocus on preventing the virus transmission? All of which leads to the following question...

Do you agree that communicators should increasingly make reference to HIV instead of AIDS or HIV/AIDS in their work?

[Poll submitted by Paulo Lyra, Advisor on Social Communication/HIV-AIDS/STI, Pan American Health Organization/WHO]

Do you agree? Disagree? Can not decide?




"HIV exists. It is a real virus. AIDS is just a construct left over from the homophobic 1980s. "

"i have increasingly come accross people who view the term AIDS as the end of existence,HIV can be managed but clinical AIDS is better to have a single term which will be understood by rural people,especially in sub-saharan africa which bears the most burden. " [NIGERIA]

"this will constantly remind the massess of the deadly disease " [NIGERIA]

"As people are better informed, HIV will be used more frequently. "

"As the focus of the pandemic is rightly on prevention, it is pertinent that we talk about HIV as a preventible disease than talk of AIDS as a death sentence and scare people. " [USA]

"I often emphasise the need to prevent infection by the HIV virus to reinforce the fact that we are dealing with an infection. I also reinforce the fact that AIDS is caused by the HIV virus "

"prefer only HIV. But the argument against that is that a new term like HIV will not be understood by the 'masses' and so let's just stick to AIDS. " [India]

"Using "HIV" instead of "AIDS" reduces the stigma of the infection as a "death sentence" - increasingly important to convey as efforts to make HAART available to people living in developing countries. "

"let us please use HIV only when we educate/communicate " [South Africa]

"HIV is the actual disease, AIDS is a series of end stage diseases, opportunistic infections, therupon AIDS means finality, with no hope. "

"Yes, particularly because the link between HIV and AIDS is not irrefutable. Also, in preventive work, AIDS is not a part of the equation when we talk about PMTCT, transmission, or antiretrovirals. " [U.S.A.]



"I thought this was already standard practice. "

"In Tanzania there is so much stigma on AIDS if you say HIV it is not so impactual as using AIDS. As a journalist I have also observed that their are too many campigns reflecting on AIDs so that people no longer take it so much seriously as it used to be. The ordinary people feel that from the ongoing campigns it makes people feel that everybody is unsafe so why not continue with wrong sexual behaviours? Maybe more effort needs to be placed on addressing why it is unsafe to continue having unprotected sex after being infected. This should focus on the individual's health. People are now aware of the AIDs but it is still not clear among most Tanzanians what HIV is. Focus should also be placed on the economic situation because young girls and women are now even aware that so and so has AIDs but they still prefer to have sex with that person because of the money. They also do not understand HIV so much focus needs to be placed on addresseing HIV and its relation to the economy. Finaly I would like to know how easy it is for people in say a village in Tanzania who are infected to the diseased to get anti retrovirals what is the procedure because their is so much misrepresentation and people imagine one has to have loads of money or be able to travel to South Africa or abroad to have their blood changed. I have carried out research on HIV/AIDs developement in Tanzanian media during my Masters course at Westminster Unbiversity in London. I like to share my findings and learn from you as days go by. My telephone contacts are +255 744 663670 Thank you and let me know what you get from other people. Stella Swaumu Vuzo " [Tanzania]

"more focus has been put on AIDS rather than HIVsuch that people dont know the difference they fear aids and thats why we have lots of stigma as people think you get AIDS then you die they get infected as they always think a healthy person does not have AIDS they forget about HIV We need to make it clear that ther is a difference and what is it Iam HIV positive and healthy and Imust say Iam tired of being insulted that Iwas bought by goverment ,Iam seeking attention because its A LONG TIME SINCE iDECLARED MY STATUS YET STILL HEALTHYwhat they know iss AIDS AND DEATH NOT hiv " [Swaziland]

"I agree because the goal is to prevent HIV. Communicating the prevention of HIV can be more effective to targeted audience. AIDS and HIV over the years have been made into one disease to the general public. With the decrease in the number of cases of AIDS the focus of communication messages should focus on preventing HIV and finding out one's HIV status. " [USA]

"My answer is “yes” to most of the questions, and yes, using HIV rather than AIDS seems to be more effective for prevention activities. I think we should analyze the problem through yet another angle, the international media. Currently the US based media, which produces most of the international news, mentions “AIDS” some 12 times more than “HIV” (quick survey using the NY Times advanced search engine). This ratio has been consistent for the past five years. The problem is that the US media increasingly uses “HIV” to refer to people living with the virus at home. The word “AIDS” comes to play only when the story covers a developing country. Not only we have a North-South “viral load divide”, but this divide is now underlined by the careful use of either one of the two words. Can lead to the emotional detachment of the public opinion of US and other developed countries? Maybe people will no longer empathize with a concept as alien to them as “famine”. On the other hand, huge advocacy efforts were developed under the “AIDS” flag. What will happen if all of the sudden we speak only about HIV? Will there be still money for the Global Fund (for “AIDS”)? This is a complex issue, which needs to be thoroughly discussed. The same can be asked about our advocacy efforts in the developing countries. What will happen to all the ministers and heads of state we barely brought to the discussion table, once they no longer hear the word “AIDS”? Whatever are the answers for those questions, my feeling is that we will hear a lot more about HIV in the future, so the question may not be “which” name, but rather “how” should we conduct a transition that reflects the best interests of people living with the virus and people vulnerable to it. " [USA]

"Because AIDS is synonim of death in Africa " [Congo Democratic]

"great idea, I've found myself leaning toward doing this already but not having any real basis for doing so. "

"Estoy de acuerdo en que al avanzar la incidencia de la ciencia (médica y social) sobre la problemática VIH debemos ir aggiornando nuestro vocabulario. Pero creo que los comunicadores difícilmente han incorporado las "viejas palabras" y se verán en aprietos para incorporar nuevas. Igualmente, vale la pena hacerlo! " [Argentina]

"The change is an important one but will take some time to realise and its effects will take longer " [Australia]

"The general public (and many others besides!) don't know the difference between HIV and AIDS. I think it's an unecessary complication. " [England]

"If regular people understand the difference they will be more aware, they should use their media to give more education than to critique " [Canada]

"HIV is a real virus. AIDS is a diagnosis of a collection of illnesses and can vary. I would prefer we talked of HIV-related disease. " [UK]

"AIDS used an a word, brings about so much stigma and the term has a historical context associated with death. We have now reached an era where as communicators, we have to change the way society interprets the word HIV/AIDS. Rather we should endeavour to normalise the infection HIV and to let society accept it as a normal life threathening condition like diabetes instead of loading the word with prejudice, both external and internal stigma and using religion to worsen the plight of people living with HIV. " [UK]

"HIV/AIDS should be use for communication to remind people that being HIV infected could lead to AIDS. Furthermore, the ravages of the disease don't happen until several years after becoming infected. People still are not aware that someone could be infected even if they seem perfectly healthy. " [United States]

"The word HIV itself is nithelping the camaign but I guess we do not have much choice. Aids worsens the case. Most often it is difficult for most people to understand that living with HIV is not the same as having full blown AIDS. The distinction will definately not only reduce stigma but bring clear understanding about the stages of the disease. " [Ghana]

""AIDS" tends to provoke a too strong negative reaction among non-specialist populations. "

"It does not mean that because you have HIV that you have AIDS. It may take a while even years before one gets AIDS, with proper health care and education. So I think HIV gives hope for a tommorrow to the person (s) infected. " [Kenya]

"AIDS has indeed become too associated with stigma and finality... " [Romania]

"I think we are past the days when a diagnosis of HIV was equivalent to a death sentence. People need hope inspite of their falling victim of this scourge. The truth is that soon HIV will be managed just as people live up to their old age with cancer. Spread hope not fear. " [kenya]

"There is too little recognition that people can have HIV and still lead healthy, productive lives! " [USA]

"HIV/AIDS is clinically more correct. " [USA]

"HIV/AIDS shows both the cause and the symptom - an integrated name; I thought of reviewing the name since it is no longer "Acquired" only but in some cases "Born" or "Inherited" as in mother-to-child transmission " [Nigeria]

"Yes. HIV is more positive and more accurate, less awkward and confusing. "

"I think it will target the real culprit-hiv and give the campaign a better focus. " [Nigeria]

"I would change completely even the word HIV and I would speak of a cronic disease. HIV should remain only a scientific word but not used currently like "people living with HIV". Please do an effort to change this word completely es. IDVH or HDI, ecc. in my opinion the name is associated with stigma. Plaese do it during this current campaign of UNAIDS against stigma and before the 11th Conference of people living with AIDS that will be held in Kampala. " [UGANDA]

"'AIDS' is associated with the end-stage of HIV infection. With the availability of ARVs, however, people with HIV can enjoy much longer life expectancy. Let's just talk about 'HIV infection'. " [UK]

""AIDS" doesn't have the same technical meaning in all countries, leading to the curious situation that someone might have "AIDS" if, for example, they live in the United States, but they don't have "AIDS" if they live in Canada, which has a different technical definition. Similarly, the list of OIs that define AIDS have changed in prevalence over the years since the epidemic began, so that "AIDS" doesn't mean the same thing it meant 20 years ago. Let's drop this outdated terminology in favour of "HIV disease", which holds the potential to more accurately reflect the chronic and progressive nature of the condition. People don't cross some sort of invisible line when the diagnosis of "AIDS" is made. "

"I think this absolutely the right approach. I have found it very frustrating for a while now that there is such a sloppy use of the phrase (which I have begun to HATE!) HIV/AIDS. It has almost become a word in it's own right. In many resource poor countries however, AIDS related symptoms are or course still very apparent (re the comment that the clinical manifestations of AIDS are reducing due to ARVs). So there is sometimes cause for using the two together. However it is important to distinguiush treatment for AIDS (treatment for OIs, prophylactics etc as well as ARVS) from treamtent for HIV (ARVs- nothing else). Or for example talk about an HIV epidemic- you cannot 'catch' AIDS. AIDS prevention is very different from HIV prevenion- one focuses on infection control and the other on maintaining good health... etc etc I could go on! " [Scotland]

"it makes sense since one may be infected and yet to manifest AIDS.We are dealing with an infection mire than a disease or state. " [nigeria]

""…metaphors of ill-health …carry with them a range of symbolic associates that can seriously affect how the sufferer perceives his own condition, and how other people behave towards them” (Cecil Helman). While ARV drugs are provided for those in developed countries, and hope and life has been restored to a degree, it is still reported that 80% of those infected with HIV in the United Kingdom think about suicide. This can only mean that HIV still holds the metaphors of stigma and finality for those who have contracted HIV. I think we should use HIV instead of AIDS or HIV/AIDS, but we also need to change the biomedical concept of HIV and its association with the word "infected" which equates HIV with death. " [United Kingdom]

"Sorry! " [Senegal]


"HIv/AIDS are not the same, since the former brings about the latter. Therefore, it is appropriate that we use both in the campaign against this contemporary apocalypse. " [Nigeria]

"If HIV is emphasised the reaction would be positive " [USA]

"I feel that the less labels used, when referring to a person's state of health, the better. " [Australia]

"People who are working on the HIV/AIDS field should by all means communicate this words. The are a lot of funny things peole might say as pecially those who are in denial about their HIV/AIDS status. Scientific information should reference ther terms "Clinical HIV/AIDS" Stages. " [South African]

"Communicators should increasingly make reference to HIV as HIV status does not necessarily mean that AIDS is a definite outcome of an HIV positive condition due to the ARV treatments available today. " [UK]

"I feel that the reference to AIDS scares people and it makes one feel that there is no looking back to a fruitful and fulfilling life. HIV is less threatening to an individual and can make one feel that there is a hope for living longer years before you van develop the dreaded- AIDS. " [Kenya]

"I strongly agree and make a point of talking about this in every training that I do (in Zim). I think that we in the field are very much responsible for linkign these two things. I remind people that "HIV is what you live with and AIDS is what you die from". We need to keep these two words very very separate. lisa " [Zimbabwe]

"I agree that health communicators should use the term HIV in their work as opposed to AIDS or HIV/AIDS. I noticed that frequently in reports, news articles,and publications the terms HIV, AIDS and HIV/AIDS are used interchangably, and as a result they are often used incorrectly or inconsistently. This adds to the confusion about the difference between HIV and AIDS. For example, AIDS test or HIV/AIDS test..using these terms make it difficult for health educators to dispell the myth that an HIV positive diagnosis immediately means AIDS. One may be HIV positive for years without showing any symptoms or being affected by the opportunistic infections associated with the syndrome, AIDS. To avoid confusion, health communicators, jounralists, community leaders and public figures need to use the terms correctly and consistently in the information they disseminate about HIV and AIDS " [Canada]

"I fully agree, that the use of only HIV will be much better to give little confidence to live with HIV " [India]




"I agree we should focus more on preventing transmission, but this would not be helped by an attempt to limit the descriptor to HIV. HIV does NOT convey images of hope and possibility: it is rather neutral as a term and lacks clarity. " [United Kingdom]

"Please, let's be serious. There is no way you can make one of the two words (HIV or AIDS) disappear because they are not the same and communicators cannot approach HIV the same way they approach AIDS. Communication for HIV is heavy in prevention, while communication for AIDS deals with another set of issues such as stigma. The problem, right now, is just the opposite, the two words are ALREADY mixed as if they were one only word, and that is why so many very expensive campaigns have failed, because they are too general and broad, trying to cope with two issues at the same time. For example, communicators are not addressing specifically the fact that HIV is "invisible", that people don't really “see” it, particularly in rural areas of Third World countries where anyone is “healthy” unless he or she really looks ill.. AIDS, on the other hand, is so dramatically visible that in many societies we are dealing with the stigmatisation of AIDS patients and their families. The complexity of HIV and AIDS doesn’t call for oversimplifications, on the contrary. " [Guatemala]

"The statement "With fewer people developing the clinical manifestations of AIDS due to the use of ARV drugs, will the word AIDS still be adequate for care efforts?" is typical from people living in the North and not being fully aware of what happens in Third World countries, particularly in Africa, where full blown AIDS is not declining but increasing. Besides, buying some extra time with expensive drugs doesn’t mean that AIDS is going to disappear. " [Guatemala]

"There is an enormous difference between having HIV and being diagnosed with AIDS. It is incumbent upon communicators to ensure that this important distinction is understood. My understanding is that the majority of people infected with HIV and/or diagnosed with AIDS do not have access to antiretrovirals let alone medications to treat opportunistic infections or for that matter access to clean water and adequate nutrition. It is commonly believed and agreed that prevention and treatment are part of one continuum. "

"While in the North American context AIDS is being redefined by the medical world because of the anti retroviral therapy and the change it brings in T4 Cell count and opportunity it affords the immune system to build itself up and fight off opportunistic infections. The scenerio remains drasticly different in third-world and developing countries, where AIDS is still a definable medical condition and stage of of HIV infection. Although reference to HIV infection certainly give people infected a sense of hope, it still would not take away the stigma associated with AIDS. To be HIV positive in a third world context is the same as being diagnosed as AIDS. It has a mortality conotation but is a necessary medical diagnosis and both terms should be kept until this situation changes globaly. " [Canada]

"The common man would not associate HIV with AIDS. The word(s) "AIDS" is (are)easily recgnised by everyone. " [Tanzania]

"The stigmatisation around HIV and AIDS is terrible, but in my opinion not tied into one word or other. While the science (the 'reality') underlying the affliction is what is most important, we will continue to battle to reduce this stigma, which in my view, is still associated with homosexuality. I think that getting across to people that it is monogamous woman and new born children that demonstrate greatest new infection rates may be a better emphasis... " [UK]

"because we need to address HIV and AIDS in the ways that communities experience it - and for most of those infected and affected Rx is not yet a possibility. What people experience is illness, poverty exacerbated, and children without adequate support systems - all impacts of AIDS, not HIV. To address only prevention of HIV does not acknowledge their situation. It is importatn to keep both. " [Canada]

"it's rare to see AIDS used alone these days, so the shift would really be from HIV/AIDS to HIV. HIV/AIDS has 2 advantages: (i) it is more specific about the problem being dealt with; and (ii) it keeps the link between HIV and AIDS to the forefront of people's minds, which is no bad thing. " [australia]

"the use of the term HIV/AIDS for communications is very important because a gretaer majority of people aroud the world still does not have access to arvs.....and AIDS is still an impending realitry to our daily lives in this part of the world " [Philippines]

"The name is not very relevant, and any time somone changes it in the west for possibly good local reasons we at the African frotline are left scampering trying to explain new jargon when the old one has hardly got implanted. Here in Congo I work in French and Swahili and it is very important for prevention activities to distinguish 'HAS the VIRUS' (shows no signs of illness but can infect) from 'HAS AIDS', whichever language we are using. I encourage people just to say 'has the virus'. Please think of the receiving end where we may meet our target group only once. Don't promote tiny changes for no reason. We are still trying to get over PLWA/HIV or PVV/SIDA and all its formulations! It ain't broke. Don't fix it. Barry Sesnan " [Congo DRC]

"Currently, the confusion that may arise with the use of HIV and AIDS is neither here nor there. In other words the issue is not when one used the words wrongly or rightly. It is either words connotative and denotative meanings which sometimes give cause for concern. In the early stages of the epidemic AIDS was equated to death, and consequently acquisition of HIV was seen as death sentence. In all these, communication experts in the media and even programs intending to change behaviors did not help much. Unfortunately the situation hasn't changed much in many of our sub-regions. HIV and AIDS are most often used synonymously. However, as is known these two words refer to two different conditions. It is always proper and appropriate to use these two words to mean what they might refer to, and not what they are not referring to. Communicators must say what they mean without leaving doubt otherwise they would always be misconstrued and then come round later to accuse the very people they claim they are communicating with to achieve common understanding. " [Ghana]

"The virus leads to the disease so one must come before the other - HIV/AIDS acceptable. "

"It is critical that people understand HIV infection as a chronic, often episodic health condition that may lead to AIDS. Currently, the acronym "HIV/AIDS" is the only way we have to communicate this. Switching to "HIV" would be oversimplifying, since HIV and AIDS are not the same thing. It is critical that we continue to communicate that not everyone with HIV has AIDS. "

"HIV word has also have its stigma,to the majority,hiv is associated with aids,maybe finding a completly new name will do! " [South Africa]

"While there is certainly a need to continue to focus on prevention, there are still consequences of HIV/AIDS that need to be addressed. For example, the increasing number of orphans that are the result of the disease. At the present time one third of the AIDS ophans are under the age of 5. Byt the year 2010 there will be 50 million children under the age of five who are orphaned as a result of AIDS. We need to continue to be made aware of the consequences of the disease as well as to focus on prevention. " [Canada]

"I disagree for two reasons. First, I think we have to be careful about thinking about this from a programmer's perspective. What message might trickle across to audiences/communities with this 'shift' in emphasis. Will it suggests that we are no longer concerned with AIDS? Will they think of HIV as a new disease - bearing in mind that levels of knowledge are not as sophisticated as most development planners and even then I recently met an extension worker in East Africa who admitted she didn't know the difference between HIV and AIDS until a year ago. The second concern is the acknowledged emphasis this places on prevention. The focus needs equally to be on treatment, given the state of transmission in Africa at least. And perhaps we should be focusing more creative energy on using communication in supporting the continum of care. "

"The use of two "words" is important because it gives the full picture. "HIV" alone does not stress the inherent danger in being infected with the virus in terms of disease progression. "AIDS" alone does not show that a person infected with the virus does not necessarily have AIDS. However, the dual acronym "HIV/AIDS" gives the impression of both a real continuum as well as a process which can be truncated. "

"I feel that communicators should still stick to the use of HIV/AIDS especially in Africa to meet up with the level of understanding of their recepients and to drive home the gravity of contraction of the virus; since, by implication, AIDS carries more gravity than AIDS. Moreso that our aim is to help people shapen and correct their sexual behavor to check the spread of this pandemic. " [NIGERIA]

"I do agree that the term AIDS is too closely associated with stigma and finality. However, I do not agree that the term HIV should be increasingly used in place of AIDS. The two terms stand for two totally different things. The former is the causative agent and the latter is the condition. Suggesting HIV should be used in place of AIDS could be compared to encouraging communicators to call Malaria ‘Plasmodium’ . This creates false security amongst sufferers and those around them. This illusion may well lead to complacent attitudes that could spread our plasmodium, in this case HIV. Preventing transmission should be the focus, but let us not lie by ommission. Let us educate each other and be frank in our efforts. HIV causes AIDS. Let’s communicate this reality and not sugar-coat it. " [United Kingdom]

"Each term has its appropriate use, and communicators should know and use them all accordingly. "

"These are medical terms with specific differences that should not be obscured by well-meaning but misinformed groups. "

"Both words are associated with stigma. You may not see AIDS in your country but where am working I see it everyday. In my clinic if i dont get a good Samaritan to give me ARVs I wont have any Of the patients am following in the next two years. This year alone i have lost six mothers four fathers and i have more who are walking death. so to us we cannot really say AIDS is gone. " [Kenya]

"HIV/AIDS is a field filled with confusion. ARV's are not freely availble yet. What about the millions living with AIDS, not just HIV? " [South Africa]

"I think it is better to keep the two-fold expression HIV-AIDS implying the two aspects of the reality, full of hope on the one hand but also and still an awesome menace that cannot be ignored on spite of the existing drug and its relative success in containing the evolution of the syndrome. " [Canada]

"Although AIDS and HIV are two different things and usually usage of the word AIDS in some regards causes pain to the people who are HIV positive but are still not AIDS patients, it is a little late, I think, to discuss whether to use AIDS or HIV in communication. The large percentage of illiterates in India and other developing countries, who are living in Media dark areas will only get more confused with the new terminology. By the time the doubts are cleared and a synergy is established in the minds of the people, a lot of valuable 'communication time' would be lost. Even today not much is known about AIDS. Many myths have already taken root. Instead of emphasizing on the terminology at this stage it would be wise to concentrate on clarifying the difference between being HIV +ve and having AIDS, as one aspect of the AIDS communication - which can be dealt with effectively wherever doctors and PLWA are being used in communication design. " [India]

"HIV and AIDS are two different entities like Hepatitis B virus and hepatoma.One is a cause, one is the effect.We need to be scientific not emotional.We can manage the stigma. " [NIGERIA]

"It is important to convey the fact that HIV is a precursor to AIDs. This as we all know does not mean that an HIV+ person is going to progress into AIDS, but the likelihood is pretty strong. " [United States]

"HIV and AIDS are NOT synonymous, so one cannot be used in place of another. People should therefore be clear of what we are dealing with , whether we talk about HIV or AIDS or both. " [Lesotho]

"In Brasil we use people who live with HIV or AIDS. People who live with AIDS are supose to have clinical manifestations of the desease. People who live with HIV doesn't have sympntons. There is great diference! We abolished the name "aidético", that means a person known, identified, just by his(her) desease. When we say "people who lives with AIDS" we are trying to avoid stigma and prejudice. In my country, people have free access of ART. But clinical manifestations still happen in a brad way. The sorological status is unknown by majority of the people. MOre easier access to test still is a chalenge for us. So, I do desagree. " [Brazil]

"The name will then change to HIV Positive people. "

"AIDS is the all encompassing label, designating a global catastrophe much greater than a medical syndrome whereas HIV is and will remain only the label for a group of viruses. " [France]

"Communicators need to ground their messages in the reality of what the epidemic means here and now for those affected by it, not where they would like it to be. "

"In certain countries HIV/AIDS is still not feared and though I agree a fear arousal communication seldom work, it could do the job of making people think twidce. If we only say HIV and exclude AIDS then the depth of the problem is not felt. " [Nepal]


"finding out one's hiv+ status is still like receiving a death sentence-- many people are still finding out they are HIV+ before developing AIDS, or even if they have AIDS clinically, the test is for HIV and when it comes back +, life changes somehow. The issue of stigma is deep, but it boils down to not respecting that a person with HIV still could contribute a lot to society in one way or another. I hope that the provision of ARVs to many Africans with HIV/AIDS will help them regain strength so they can fight this battle of reclaiming self-respect, identity and hope. " [USA]

"its a new idea for me.i think i wil join the agree group, given more time "

"As the person who originally suggested this poll, I am using this “neutral” space to clarify a point raised in the discussion. Quoting one of the several questions that comprised the poll (“With fewer people developing the clinical manifestations of AIDS due to the use of ARV drugs, will the word AIDS still be adequate for care efforts?”), a colleague stated that “this [assumption] is typical from people living in the North and not being fully aware of what happens in Third World countries”. While it is a fact that the vast majority of people with HIV in the developing world don’t have access to antiretrovirals, it is also true that this is changing reality. According to UNAIDS, 50% (yes, 50%!) of people under criteria for treatment in Latin America and the Caribbean already have access to these drugs. In February, we made a concrete step to expand this, as Central American governments – this colleague lives in one of them, Guatemala – negotiated with five large pharmaceutical companies and managed to bring the cost of treatment in that region to a level similar of South Saharan Africa for brand name drugs (US 1,100 per year per patient). Still high, but a fifth of the prices practiced two years ago. The other good news is that the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, malaria and TB is granting substantial resources towards antiretroviral treatment. Once this money starts coming in, many developing countries will scale up the number of people under treatment. Of course that much remains to be done – including strengthening the capacity of the health system to handle the expanded treatment. As for me “not being fully aware of what happens in Third World countries”, maybe that’s because I was busy in Panama providing communications support to the negotiation that brought down the prices for Central American countries. Some of the ministries of health present publicly said that there was no reason why they couldn’t treat 100% of people thereafter. This commitment was made in front of the media and the several NGO present. The comment from the colleague was very fortunate, as it raises an important point. We, communicators, need to wake up for this changing reality and engage more actively in the efforts to expand treatment in the developing world. This is both for humanitarian reasons and also because the availability of treatment creates a much more positive environment for prevention. People are more likely to speak about sex once intercourse is no longer a Russian roulette. How long will it take until regions like Africa expand treatment to a sizable number of people? The answer partly depends on us. Let’s incorporate this fight in the HIV Communication agenda. " [USA]