Language is foundational to how we understand and interact with ourselves and others. Unclear language can lead to confusion and inefficiencies, while stigmatizing and prejudicial language leads to harmful practices and dehumanizes people. As a result of informal and institutionalized discrimination, a person with HIV, substance use, or who has a history of incarceration is likely to be involved with at least two of those three systems. Establishing a shared language across HIV, substance use, and incarceration can strengthen our understanding of and care for people who engage with multiple systems at once.
This document describes how and why HIV, substance use, and/or carceral systems overlap; emphasizes the need to establish collaborative language when talking about these systems and the people who move within and between them; and shares direct actions that state partners can take to modify their language use and establish their own collaborative language.
Keywords: HIV, substance use, incarceration