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The Denver Principles

PWA Self-Empowerment Principles from Denver, 1983

Winter 2000

There is no better way to cite the history of the PWA self-empowerment movement than to quote the principles articulated in Denver in 1983. "They are as relevant and powerful today as they were then."

The Denver Principles

Statement from the advisory committee of the People With AIDS.

We condemn attempts to label us as "victims," a term which implies defeat, and we are only occasional "patients," a term which implies passivity, helplessness, and the dependence upon the care of others. We are "People With AIDS."


Recommendations for All People

1. Support us in our struggle against those who would fire us from our jobs, evict us from our homes, refuse to touch us or separate us from our loved ones, our community or our peers, since available evidence does not support the view that AIDS can be spread by casual, social contact.

2. Not scapegoat people with AIDS, blame us for the epidemic or generalize about our lifestyles.

Recommendations for People with AIDS

1. Form caucuses to choose their own representatives, to deal with the media, to choose their own agenda and to plan their own strategies.

2. Be involved at every level of decision-making and specifically serve on the boards of directors of provider organizations.

3. Be included in all AIDS forums with equal credibility as other participants, to share their own experiences and knowledge.

4. Substitute low-risk sexual behaviors for those that could endanger yourselves or your partner; we feel people with AIDS have an ethical responsibility to inform their potential sexual partners of their health status.

Rights of People with AIDS

1. To have as full and satisfying sexual and emotional lives as anyone else.

2. To quality medical treatment and quality social service provisions without discrimination of any form including sexual orientation, gender, diagnosis, economic status or race.

3. To full explanations of all medical procedures and risks, to choose or refuse their treatment modalities, to refuse to participate in research without jeopardizing their treatment and to make informed decisions about their lives.

4. To privacy, to confidentiality of medical records, to human respect and to choose who their significant others are.

5. To die and to LIVE ... in dignity.

Homophobia Defined

Homophobia is everyone's problem...and it directly affects the spread of HIV/AIDS.

Among the definitions for homophobia quoted in the paper published in the Journal of Abnormal Psychology (7/31/96) are, "The dread of being in close quarters with homosexual men and women as well as irrational fear, hatred and intolerance by heterosexual individuals of homosexual men and women."

Scientists distinguish between people who feel homosexuality is morally wrong, socially undesirable or illegal. They define such responses -- which are essentially mental -- as "homonegativism."

Homophobia is essentially an emotional response, where people show "fear, anxiety, anger, discomfort or aversion" in interacting with gays.

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This article was provided by Women Alive. It is a part of the publication Women Alive Newsletter.