Reaffirming Our Commitment to the Denver Principles

November 27, 2013

“We are ‘People with AIDS.’ ”

After 30 years, that line is still powerful, still true. It’s the opening to the Denver Principles, the core document of a self-empowerment movement that grew out of San Francisco in the early 1980s. People first, condition second.

The Denver Principles are, in many ways, the Bill of Rights for people living with HIV. They changed the way our nation’s health care system treated people living with this disease—and it changed our health care system in general.

What’s more, this ideology remains vital in the fight against HIV/AIDS today.

This World AIDS Day, December 1, the AIDS Foundation of Chicago (AFC) is reaffirming its commitment to the Denver Principles, and we encourage you to join us. That’s one of the best ways we can unite with others in this global movement and honor those who have died.

In the common areas throughout our office, we’ve hung the Denver Principles to remind us why we’re here: “We condemn attempts to label us as ‘victims,’ a term which implies defeat, and we are only occasionally ‘patients,’ a term which implies passivity, helplessness, and dependence upon the care of others. We are ‘People with AIDS.’ ”

The 11 principles that follow remind us that we’re strong, that we have agency, and that we will prevail over HIV/AIDS.

AFC is dedicated to people living with HIV beyond our mission, beyond the people we serve, because we too are people living with this disease. Of our 40 board members, seven are openly HIV positive. Roughly 15 percent of our office staff is HIV positive, and many of our volunteers and community advisory board members are positive as well.

The Denver Principles are especially important for us, but everybody has benefited from their wisdom and guidance over the decades. They created a culture of empowerment surrounding a devastating disease. Let’s honor this movement by keeping its memory alive this World AIDS Day. Let’s unite and share the depth of the Denver Principles with new generations.

So how do you reaffirm your commitment to these values? It’s simple. Read them. Share them with your social network. Let people know how important these principles are to you, to AFC, to the health of our community. Together, we can continue to break down the stigma surrounding HIV/AIDS in order to create a more just society.

Here is some sample content for your social media streams:

Stand with @AIDSChicago. Reaffirm your commitment to the #DenverPrinciples and empower people living with HIV/AIDS.

This #WorldAIDSDay, I’m reaffirming my commitment to the #DenverPrinciples.

#AIDS isn’t over. This #WorldAIDSDay learn how you can empower people living with HIV through the #DenverPrinciples.

It’s that simple.

After all, we are people with AIDS. We are people with HIV. We are people at risk of contracting this disease. We are stalwart supporters of people living with HIV/AIDS. But above all else we are people, period.

Categorized under Inside Story.

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