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Changing minds will change the HIV epidemic. By signing and sharing the open letter, you’re helping to drive the global HIV update. 

The Open Letter

We’re calling on the Director-General of the WHO, the politicians of the world, and its citizens: rename the human immunodeficiency virus.

Three letters, H-I-V, carry a long history of stigma we can’t treat. So, let’s push past the stigma, let’s rename HIV, and finally end the Epidemic of the Mind. 

An Open Letter to Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, director general of the World Health Organization

Update HIV

Dear Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus,

Dear World Leaders,

Dear World Citizens,

Today’s youth will inherit some of the greatest global challenges humanity has ever faced. The HIV epidemic does not need to be one of them.

Infection with the Human Immunodeficiency Virus is preventable, treatable and, with proper medication, untransmittable. You have said it yourself, Dr. Tedros: we have all the tools we need to end this epidemic.

Yet in 2021, 1.5 million people became newly infected with HIV. Around the world, 38.4 million people live with the virus. 1.7 million of them are children younger than 15, half of whom are not receiving lifesaving treatment.

If we have the tools, why are we so off course?

Today, HIV is an epidemic of the mind. Our adversary is not a biological virus living in people’s bodies, but our own thoughts and attitudes.

For too many, “HIV” means stigma. These three letters carry more than four decades of shame, prejudice and false beliefs. For those living with the virus, and those at risk, this stigma acts as a barrier to health care, to knowledge, and to protection. A virus is not responsible for this. We are.

To end the epidemic, we need to change how the world views HIV. That is why we must rename it.

When we change the way we speak, we change the way we think. The term “HIV” is lethal. The virus, now more of a chronic disease, does not need to be. A new name would help the world see HIV as it is today: a global challenge that science, together with society, can overcome. A new name could help us look to the future, not the past.

When we change the way we speak, we change the way we think. And for us to end the HIV epidemic, that needs to happen.

Let’s change the name. Let’s end the stigma. Forever.


Youth Against AIDS

Your Voice Matters

Join your voice to thousands of others including global leaders, HIV activists, and sexual health experts as we push to change the way the world sees a virus that has been characterized by the fear it incites, not the hope it inspires, for far too long. 

Sign up to show your support, and if you want to go a step further, download the Open Letter, sign it, and share it online. 


Rename HIV

Get involved with the campaign by proposing a new name for the virus.