LGBTQI activist and founder of The Institute of Many, Nic Holas, tweeted yesterday afternoon that following an enquiry from one of The Institute’s members, the Macquarie Dictionary had promised to change their definition of ‘safe sex’.
Currently, the definition reads:
“any sexual practices in which precautions are taken to prevent the transmission of sexually transmitted diseases, especially AIDS.”
I am so proud of TIM member Mark, who today literally changed the @MacqDictionary's definition of safe sex. Welcome to #HIV in the 21st century! ✌🏻 #TheInstituteofMany #BeyondHIVStigma pic.twitter.com/2EKLeGlxZm
— Nic Holas (@nicheholas) September 5, 2018
Institute of Many member Mark sent an enquiry to Macquarie Dictionary, rightfully pointing out that AIDS is not transmitted through sex (HIV is), and suggesting the emphasis on AIDS wasn’t necessary.
The emphasis on AIDS harkens back to a time when being diagnosed with HIV was much more likely to lead to AIDS. Now, with the existence of things like antiretrovirals that are actually decent, an HIV diagnosis doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll develop AIDS, and meds like PrEP mean HIV transmission rates are much lower in general nationwide.
It is… odd that the dictionary would single out the one major sexually-transmitted disease that’s largely associated with the LGBTQI community when it’s nowhere near the most common STI (in Australia, that honour goes to chlamydia).
Fortunately, the team at the Dictionary were sympathetic to Mark’s concerns, and responded with an email that said:
“Our Editor-in-Chief has confirmed that you are correct regarding the statement in the definition, and this will be updated accordingly.”
At the time of publishing, the definition in the online dictionary hasn’t yet been changed, but I assume these sorts of changes take a few days.
Being able to say you helped change a dictionary definition is pretty great, and educating people about how they can ensure they don’t contribute to the stigmatisation of those living with HIV is even better. On ya Mark!