July 23, 2010 / 11:39 AM / 9 years ago

Understanding AIDS -- a labor of love

VIENNA (Reuters Life!) - At AIDS 2010, the PLWHA and the PLHIV have come together with MSMs, IDUs and other MARPs to see if they can bring about GIPA.

In other words, this week’s international AIDS conference in Vienna has plunged journalists seeking to make sense of the global epidemic into a thick alphabet soup.

Once you’ve figured out the basics, like HIV — human immunodeficiency virus, and AIDS — acquired immunodeficiency syndrome — the acronyms move to another level.

MSM is short for men who have sex with men, IDUs are injecting drug users and MARPs are most at risk populations and LGBTs are lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgender people.

PMTCT is prevention of mother to child transmission and PEP stands for post-exposure prophylaxis and PrEP, conveniently, is pre-exposure prophylaxis.

“Letters are swimming before me like alphabet soup. It’s almost like they make a new one up every day ,” said one reporter laboring through the conferences’ press statements.

AIDS drugs are known as ART, or antiretroviral therapy, HAART, highly active antiretroviral therapy, and there’s a new generation known as NNRTIs, or non-nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitors.

Then you get the acronyms that include acronyms inside them.

PLHIV are people living with HIV, PLWHA stands for people living with HIV and AIDS, while GIPA means greater involvement of people living with HIV and AIDS.

“It’s one of the hardest things to get your head around when you start working in this area,” said one communications official at the media center at the biennial conference.

“It’s a steep learning curve, but the sad fact is that after a while it becomes the norm, and then you start talking AIDS.”

Reporting by Kate Kelland; Editing by Steve Addison

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