Words Matter

Too often language is used as a tool of oppression. Words and phrases perpetuate stereotypical ideas of individuals and communities that shape our views and interactions. Negative Language can reinforce layered forms of oppression and discrimination based on gender, race, sexual identity, socioeconomic status, and other factors.  Repeated exposure to negative language affirming stigma, oppression, and discrimination negatively affects the health and well-being of an individual. Words are what we use to process, define, and express our human experience. There is power in precision and words have the power to build or break our perceptions, understandings, and expectations. Words can empower or destroy, encourage or discourage, give value or render worthless.

We should always remember that there is power
in precision and Words Matter.


Words can be used to create spaces where people feel safe, comfortable, and supported. Words are powerful tools in disrupting bias and stigma as well as facilitating healing.


It is important to use words to eliminate HIV stigma because when people are afraid of experiencing discrimination they are less likely to be tested or treated for HIV.  Additionally, treating individuals living with HIV differently can negatively affect their ability to secure life’s necessities like housing, employment, medical care, and necessary social support. 

As a living document, this toolkit will evolve to reflect emerging culturally inclusive practices. The Words Matter Campaign will leverage Black-centered networks committed to the health and well-being of Black communities to disseminate and support the use of the toolkits.
Use our HIV/AIDS toolkit as a guide to help navigate your community conversation as we move towards ending the HIV/AIDS epidemic


Words-Matter-pledge.pdf156.15 KB
Words-Matter-Toolkit-2019-12-19.pdf5.87 MB