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Stopping HIV in the United States is possible, but to achieve this each and every one of us must act and get involved. Whether you are an individual or an organization, you have an opportunity to take action. A little help can go a long way, and you can make a difference. We can all do something to help stop HIV.

You can help reduce stigma and increase awareness and knowledge about HIV by sharing your own messages of hope and encouragement using the ideas, tools, and resources on this page.

Let’s stop HIV together by:

Talking Openly about HIV

Get involved in the conversation. The first step to stopping HIV is talking openly about it. For some people, it may feel uncomfortable and embarrassing at first, but talking openly about HIV can help make these conversations less awkward. By sharing accurate information about HIV, we can make sure that everyone learns the facts, including how HIV is transmitted and how to prevent getting HIV.

Every conversation we have about HIV helps eliminate the stigma often associated with the disease. Stigma is the shame or disgrace tied to something viewed as socially unacceptable. Labeling and stereotyping people based on prejudice against a certain trait leads to stigma which sets these people apart from the rest of society and can keep people from accessing medical care, employment, and even housing. Stigma also leads to feelings of shame and isolation among those discriminated against, leading many to deny symptoms and delay or avoid treatment. More than three decades after initial HIV diagnoses were made, stigma remains a barrier to stopping HIV in the United States. Certain words and language used in the context of HIV and AIDS may have negative meaning for those at high-risk or who are living with HIV and may result in real or perceived stigma, discrimination, fear, and anxiety, which prevents some people from getting tested and treated. We can all start by being thoughtful about our words, and choosing to use supportive—rather than stigmatizing—language when talking openly about HIV.

When having conversations about HIV and sharing messages on social media or other media and communications outlets, keep in mind the following tips:

  • Keep language general. Using exaggerated phrases or exclamation marks in some contexts may fuel stigma, discrimination, fear and anxiety.
  • Tune in and listen to what the other person might have to say. Correct myths about HIV by sharing the facts.
  • Consider the preferred terms below to avoid promoting stigma and misinformation.
Problematic word or phrase Preferred word or phrase
AIDS (when referring to the virus, HIV) HIV or HIV and AIDS when referring to both
Why: AIDS is a range of conditions, or a syndrome, that occurs when a person’s immune system is weakened by the HIV infection. AIDS itself is not an infection. Use each term separately or both when referring to both but do not use HIV/AIDS because this suggests that the terms are interchangeable. A person with AIDS is HIV-positive, but not everyone who is HIV-positive has developed or will develop AIDS.
To catch AIDS
To get AIDS
To catch HIV
To pass on HIV
To be diagnosed with HIV
To acquire HIV
To transmit HIV
Why: AIDS cannot be caught or transmitted. People can become infected with HIV. HIV can be transmitted, but not inherited.
Unprotected sex Sex without a condom or medicines to prevent or treat HIV.
Body fluids Blood, amniotic fluid, semen, pre-ejaculate, vaginal fluids, breast milk.
Why: Only some body fluids transmit HIV. ‘Body fluids’ cover all fluids coming from the body and not just those involved in HIV transmission. Be specific if you can. Knowing the facts can help reduce stigma.
To battle HIV/AIDS
War against HIV/AIDS
Response to HIV and AIDS
Why: These terms may be considered militaristic and stigmatizing that may lead to the thinking that people living with HIV have to be ‘fought’ or eliminated.
High(er) risk group(s)
Groups with high risk behavior
High risk behavior (unprotected sex, use of contaminated needles, etc.)
Highly affected communities
Key populations
Key populations at higher risk
Why: These terms imply that membership of a particular group, rather than engaging in certain behaviors, can be the cause of becoming HIV positive. They may give a false sense of security to those who do not self-identify with one of these groups.
Person/people with HIV
Person/people living with HIV
Why: Some people living with HIV feel these terms imply that they are powerless, with no control over their lives. Also, these terms segregate the people currently living with HIV.
AIDS patient
HIV patient
Person with HIV
Person living with HIV
HIV-positive person
Why: A patient is someone who is seen by medical personnel in a medical setting. Outside of that clinical context, the person should not be referred to as a patient. The term implies a constant state of illness that can be misleading and demoralizing.
AIDS or HIV carrier
HIV-positive people/person
People/person living with HIV
Why: These terms may be offensive and stigmatizing to people living with HIV. A person is not HIV. A person lives with HIV once infected with the virus.

Stigma Language Guide

Remember, a conversation does not have to be face-to-face. Whether you talk, type, or text, what is important is that you start the conversation about HIV and pay particular attention to the words that you use in order to avoid labeling and stereotyping people living with HIV. No matter how you choose to be involved in the response to HIV, you can show your support by educating yourself and others about HIV and being thoughtful about the words you choose to use when talking about HIV. Used correctly and carefully, our words can be an important and powerful tool to stopping HIV and improving health outcomes for people living with HIV.

Find information and resources below:

For information about how to talk to children about sex and HIV visit:

Share Your Story

Share your personal HIV story with others.

Stories have power, and every voice and every story is important. HIV affects each individual differently and everyone’s story of living with HIV is unique. The personal stories of Let’s Stop HIV Together campaign participants help highlight the fact that HIV touches every corner of American society and people living with HIV are part of the fabric of our families and valued members of our communities. Stories like these are powerful testimonies and reminders that HIV is still with us and affects us in so many ways.

People just like you from across the country are speaking up about HIV. We encourage people living with HIV and those who care about them, to share their stories because positive or negative, we are all affected by HIV. Tell us your story! There are stories like those featured on this site from all around the country, and we want to read them! Submit your story and check back regularly for new postings. Select stories may also be featured on the Act Against AIDS Facebook page once a month. Or, make your own video and share it with us on social media using the hashtag #StopHIVTogether.

Because of the volume of submissions, not all stories will be immediately available or available indefinitely. By providing this information, you give your permission to associate your first name and age with your submission.

Want to share your story but need some ideas? See below for some examples! You can see more on Facebook or on the Stories About Living with HIV section of this website

Nancy’s Written Story

Get Involved on Social Media

Social media tools allow us to connect with people that we may never have the chance to meet otherwise. They also allow us to join our voices together to reach more people and have a greater impact. Whether you are using a computer, a tablet or smartphone, Let’s Stop HIV Together wants you to get creative and find new ways to tell the world about what you are doing to #StopHIVTogether.

Follow Us

Sample Facebook posts to get you started:

Use these hashtags



Did you know?  Anyone who is sexually active can get #HIV, chlamydia, gonorrhea, syphilis or other STDs.

Models, martial artists, and Olympians are featured in CDC’s Let’s #StopHIVTogether campaign. Check out these posters!

Do you know the basic information on #HIV/AIDS? Get the who, what, when, where, and why from @CDCgov. #StopHIVTogether

We can #StopHIVTogether. I am learning more everyday so that I can be supportive of the person/people I know who is/are living with HIV. I get a lot of information from

I talk to my friends about HIV and what we can do to #StopHIVTogether. What have you done this week to reduce stigma?


Are you on schedule with your #HIV testing?  #StopHIVTogether

You can get a #HIV test without giving blood. Learn more. #StopHIVTogether

Your story

I am living with #HIV and I do all I can to keep myself and my partner healthy. #GetTested and know that no matter what the results, there are people out there who care about you and support you.

I am a woman living with #HIV. I am also a grandmother/mother/daughter/friend/partner/wife/teacher/student. HIV does not define me. A lot of other people are sharing their stories too -

I #GetTested because I care about others who are living with HIV. I know my status and I talk openly about #HIV because having honest conversations can help reduce stigma that prevents people from getting and staying in care.

Sample Twitter posts to get you started:


If you’re having sex, you can get #HIV, chlamydia, gonorrhea, syphilis, or other STDs.

Check out these inspiring #StopHIVTogether posters!

Get up to speed on basic #HIV/AIDS information from @CDCgov: #StopHIVTogether


Are you on schedule with your #HIV testing? #StopHIVTogether

Learn more about getting a blood-free #HIV test #StopHIVTogether

This CDC list will help you learn to reduce your risk of #HIV exposure #StopHIVTogether

Your story

How soon would you ask a new date their #HIV status?  #safesex  #StopHIVTogether

Infographics tell a story and share information in a visually appealing way. They invoke emotion and use both text and graphics. To make a big impact with your social media pages click here for links and infographics that you can include in your posts.

Make Your Own #StopHIVTogether Video

Tell us how you’re working to #StopHIVTogether in your community by following 3 easy steps:
  1. Record a short video on your mobile device, tablet, or computer telling us how you work to #StopHIVTogether.
    • Videos can be of you simply telling us about your experiences OR you can film some of the work you do in action (i.e. preparing for an event).
    • Videos should be 15-30 sec in length; shorter if you’re posting to Vine
  2. Upload it to your preferred social media channel.
  3. Tag us in your video post and use the hashtag #StopHIVTogether
    • Act Against AIDS has a presence on Facebook (@ActAgainstAIDS), Instagram (@ActAgainstAIDS), and Twitter (@TalkHIV)

	Screen shot image from a video created by Let’s Stop HIV Together campaign participant Maria. Image shows Maria sitting in a chair in a casual living space.

Connecting with Your Community

There are a lot of ways to get involved in the HIV response in your community. You can organize a HIV awareness activity at your school, place of employment or church; you can volunteer your time and skills at an existing organization or group that is involved in the response to HIV; or simply, you can become an informed citizen.

CDC counts on leaders within the community to help extend the reach of “Let’s Stop HIV Together.” We encourage you to promote campaign messages at community events, on your organization’s website, and through social media or e-mail.

Download Campaign Materials

Whether you are planning or participating in a community event, we have materials that you can use to showcase your HIV awareness activities. These free, downloadable campaign materials will help spread the word in your community and raise awareness about the impact of HIV, the importance of HIV prevention and testing, the effects of stigma, and how we can work together to increase support for people living with HIV.

If you are looking for signs to use at an event, we’ve got that too. Contact CDC-INFO to request Let’s Stop HIV Together posters, pop-up banners, and photo backdrops.  

	Image of a Let’s Stop HIV Together poster showing campaign participant Justin standing to the right and in front of his friend Lissy. The top of the poster reads, “I am a latino, a student, and an HIV educator. And I am living with HIV.” followed by the Let’s Stop HIV Together campaign logo and Justin’s signature. The bottom of the poster reads, “Justin has lived with HIV since 2006. Get the facts. Get tested. Get involved.” followed by the logos for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and Act Against AIDS.

	Image of Let’s Stop HIV Together campaign palm card showing the Let’s Stop HIV Together campaign logo at the top and the text “More than one million people are living with HIV in the U.S.”, followed by three campaign poster images featuring campaign participants Jamar, Kelly, and Robert. Jamar’s poster shows him standing to the left of his mom and reads “I am a devoted son, a singer, and an artist. And I am living with HIV. - Jamar” at the top, and “Jamar has lived with HIV since 2006.” at the bottom. Kelly’s poster shows her standing in front and to the right of her friend and reads “I am a friend, an artist and a daughter. And I am living with HIV. – Kelly” at the top, and “Kelly (right) has lived with HIV since 2010.” at the bottom. Robert’s poster shows him standing to the right of his friend Dwight and reads “I am a best friend, a leader, and a force. And I am living with HIV. – Robert” at the top, and “Robert (right) has lived with HIV since 2010.” at the bottom.

	Image of Let’s Stop HIV Together campaign brochure. Left side of the image shows the Let’s Stop HIV Together campaign logo at the top followed by Let’s Stop HIV Together campaign participant images. From left to right, row one: Jamar and his mom, Regan and her sister, Phill and his parents; row two:  Pamela and Tommy, Venita and her sister, Mark and his friend; row 3: Hydeia and her friend, Kelly and her friend, Oriol and his partner; row 4: Mysti and her husband, Michelle and her friend, followed by the Act Against AIDS logo. Right side of the image reads, “We are stopping HIV together, whether we are positive or negative. HIV does not define who we are. HIV can affect anyone. Do your part by educating yourself and talking about HIV with your friends, families and loved ones. Help us prevent HIV by always protecting yourself, getting tested, and getting treatment, if needed.” Followed by the Let’s Stop HIV Together logo.

Volunteer in Your Community

Donate your valuable time and skills! Being involved and active in your community is a great way to get information and help improve the services received by persons living with HIV. Volunteering is fun and fulfilling. Check out these activities that rely on people just like you. Your help is needed!

A Day with HIV is an anti-stigma campaign that encourages people everywhere, for one day out of the year – A Day with HIV – to share their story with the world and capture a moment of their lives. The pictures are then posted on social media and on, with the hashtag #adaywithhiv. also has a calendar with links to local events around the country

Not sure where to start? Try contacting your local AIDS service organizations and/or community health departments. These groups can help identify opportunities or other organizations that may need the support of volunteers. You can also visit the sites listed below to search HIV/AIDS-related volunteer opportunities for you, your family, and friends in your community.

Host an Event

You can organize your own event by partnering with a local health department or community-based organization. Another option is to find an event that is already taking place and ask the organizers to plan an HIV awareness activity as part of that event. Either way, local events are a great outlet for open discussions about HIV.

You can help promote the event within your community and among people living with HIV as well as their partners, friends, and families. Encourage community members to come together to support each other and work together to stop HIV.

Building a Coalition

There is power in numbers! With more people involved, we are able to accomplish more than any individual, organization, or institution can by working alone. Collaborative efforts allow us to extend the reach of HIV prevention messages, while providing partners an opportunity to engage in open and honest conversations using accurate information and appropriate language. We encourage you to use the collective strength and influence of a variety of groups or individuals, stakeholders, and partners to increase HIV/AIDS awareness, prevention, testing, and action within your community.

The Together Network might be able to help you connect with partners. The Together Network is a diverse group of HIV-positive individuals and their supporters from communities across the country who help CDC and the Let’s Stop HIV Together campaign to spread the message that HIV affects all of us. This coalition of campaign participants works with local organizations and community-based programs to speak out against stigma, promote HIV testing and treatment options, and improve the lives of people living with HIV. Visit the Together Network page to see if these campaign participants are working to stop HIV in your city or community.