Make a New Year’s Resolution: Choose words that matter when you want to make a positive impact
Resolutions do not have to expire shortly after the new year. For yours, we hope you will make person-first language your pledge throughout 2022.
Person-first language helps someone know that you see them as much more than their condition or diagnosis. As 2022 brings more uncertainty, keeping each other close and cared for may become more challenging. DAP Health has been doing this since 1984 with unending curiosity, and by consulting with the people we serve.
Choosing different words might seem trivial to you. But you have the power to help someone who has suffered from stigma feel welcome for the first time. We take person-first language seriously because we have witnessed our patients and clients experiencing dramatically better health outcomes, after facing fear and shame in other medical and behavioral health settings.
After trying to survive in a world of stigma, a person can heal from fear once they enter culturally competent care. They feel less like an outsider. Suddenly, they start dreaming about their own future. And with care and resources from DAP Health, living a fuller life often becomes a reality.
Change can start with you. Below are the areas of health care urgently needing people-first language. We also added links for you to find out more.
Instead of addict or user, consider saying they have a substance use disorder (SUD). Using person-first language shows that SUD is an illness. Find out more at https://www.drugabuse.gov/drug-topics/addiction-science/words-matter-preferred-language-talking-about-addiction
For DAP Health’s Outpatient Drug Free (ODF) program, contact our Behavioral Health Patient Services Representative at 760-323-2118.
Instead of saying HIV patient, consider saying “person living with HIV” or PLWHIV.
The Undetectable Equals Untransmitable (U=U) movement is undoing decades of stigma that was built on a mistruth. With proper antiretroviral therapy (ART), PLWHIV cannot sexually transmit the virus to others. Find out more at preventionaccess.org.
For HIV care at DAP Health, visit daphealth.org or call 760-323-2118.
Gender Affirming Care
Introducing yourself with your pronouns means you are starting the conversation with respect.
If you say, “Hi, I’m David. My pronouns are he, him, his.” This shows that you are comfortable with your own identity and that you understand that gender identity is up to each person to name themselves. It also makes the other person feel safe to share theirs if they choose to.
A substantial number of transgender and gender diverse people avoid health care because of stigma. When someone does not acknowledge their gender identity, it is as a form of discrimination.
To find out more about Gender Affirming Care, visit daphealth.org or call 760-323-2118.
Instead of saying someone has a mental or emotional health challenge, consider just referring to them by their name. Always ask how they want to identify.
For more about person-first language and behavioral health, visit https://www.mhanational.org/person-centered-language
To find out about therapy at DAP Health, contact our Patient Services Representative at 760-323-2118.
Instead of promiscuous, consider saying multiple partners.
Instead of unprotected sex, consider using condomless sex or condomless sex with (or without) PrEP, or condomless sex with treatment-as-prevention.
Instead of prostitution, consider sex worker or transactional sex.
Sexual expression is a normal part of the human experience, but it is one of the most stigmatized areas of health care. Fear, anger, and shame keep many from STI and HIV testing but modifying how we talk about it can help us bring down California’s rising epidemics.
To find out about free sexual wellness services and more about overcoming sexual stigma, visit https://www.daphealth.org/hiv-sti-care/sexual-health-clinic/ or call (760) 323-2118.
Instead of homeless person, consider saying person experiencing homelessness.
DAP Health understands that people experience being unhoused, but that it does not define them. Our Community Health team goes to where people need services, wherever that is. Find out more about our mobile services and outreach by calling 760-323-2118 or visiting daphealth.org.