terre thaemlitz writings

- Terre Thaemlitz

1993 (comatonse.com). Most of this information was written in committee with others, and Terre is not the sole author. Please note that this information was compiled during the late '80s and early '90s, and some of it may be out of date (statistics, etc.). However, most information is general enough that it is still relevant. In particular, the "HIV/AIDS Lexicon" remains as important as ever. The old "HIV/AIDS Resources" section has been deleted since HIV and AIDS related organizations and referral agencies are easily located through current internet search engines.

introduction | transmission | prevention | testing | lexicon


HIV and AIDS affect everyone. So can knowledge! Before you go digging, please check out the basic definitions below.

Basic Definitions

    HIV [Human Immunodeficiency Virus]. HIV is the virus which can lead to AIDS. HIV reduces your body's immunities so that they can no longer fight off diseases. HIV has never been seen, and is currently detected by testing for the presence of HIV Antibodies - your body's natural defense against HIV. Having HIV does not necessarily mean you have AIDS, and because AIDS is a syndrome there is no such thing as an "AIDS Virus."

    AIDS [Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome]. AIDS is not a disease. AIDS is a syndrome, or general health condition resulting from low immunity tolerance which is signified by the presence of specific health conditions as defined by the U.S. Center for Disease Control [CDC]. For you to be diagnosed as having AIDS you would generally have to test positive for the presence of HIV Antibodies, and currently be ill with a disease listed in the CDC's definition of AIDS (such as a form of pneumonia). It is important to note (and it should enrage you) that certain health conditions commonly experienced by people with HIV - especially several conditions specific to women with HIV - are not listed in the CDC's definition of AIDS. This means that thousands of people with AIDS remain uncounted and unable to benefit from federally funded AIDS programs.

    Risk Behavior. Actions which place an individual at risk for contracting HIV. It is engaging in risk behavior, not being part of a demographic social group, that places a person at risk for contracting HIV.

Now that we've got our definitions out of the way, here's some basic information that everyone should know about HIV and AIDS:

  • Routes of Transmission. Ways in which you could contract HIV.
  • Prevention. Simple steps to reduce your risk of contracting HIV.
  • Testing. Issues one should take into consideration before testing for the HIV antibody.
  • HIV/AIDS Lexicon. A list of frequently used terms that should be avoided when discussing HIV and AIDS.