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WKND FEEDBACK

'Victims' of AIDS? Hardly

March 08, 2007

Thank you for the terrific article ["Beyond the Statistics," March 1] highlighting our "HIV-Positive in Los Angeles" project. The article is extremely well-written and, we hope, will lead many to see the exhibit at UCLA and on the Web (artsci.ucla.edu/hivla).That said, we do want to raise a serious concern about the subhead of the article, which describes people living with HIV/AIDS as "victims."

After the article appeared, one of our project participants wrote to us: "We may be victims of discrimination, we may be victims of abuse, we may be victims of ignorance, we may be victims of misperceptions, but we are most definitely not victims of HIV/AIDS."

The goal of this photo exhibit and multimedia project is to give voice to people living with HIV/AIDS in Los Angeles, and to overcome the us/them separation. Though there are obstacles still to overcome such as inequalities in medical access and financial hardship, people with HIV/AIDS do live vibrantly and optimistically in this city. The L.A. Times style book already suggests avoiding the word "victim" in relation to HIV/AIDS. Using the words "people living with HIV/AIDS" instead of "victims" might require a little more ink, but it would make a huge difference to your readers' perceptions.

THE "HIV-POSITIVE IN LOS ANGELES: TWELVE STORIES" TEAM

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