The 'Denver Principles' were drawn up during the Second National AIDS Forum at the National Lesbian and Gay Health Conference, held in Denver, US, in 1983.
They were drafted by fourteen AIDS activists, mostly from San Francisco and New York, who met up at the conference. They stormed the closing of the conference in order to present their work, bringing a “Fighting For Our Lives” banner.
The presentation brought the crowd to tears, and it was a full ten minutes until the audience was able to compose itself. The keynote speaker, Ginny Apuzzo, in response to the presentation, opened with, “if those health care providers in attendance were the health care pioneers, then those of us with AIDS were truly the trailblazers”.
The principles, which formed the basis of the People With AIDS (PWA) self-empowerment movement, consist of the following:
We condemn attempts to label us as ‘victims,’ a term that implies defeat, and we are only occasionally ‘patients,’ a term that implies passivity, helplessness, and dependence upon the care of others. We are ‘People With AIDS.’
Recommendations for all people:
- 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
- not scapegoat people with AIDS, blame us for the epidemic or generalize about our lifestyles
Recommendations for People With AIDS:
- form caucuses to choose their own representatives, to deal with the media, to choose their own agenda and to plan their own strategies
- be involved at every level of decision-making and specifically serve on the boards of directors of provider organizations
- be included in all AIDS forums with equal credibility as other participants, to share their own experiences and knowledge
- substitute low-risk sexual behaviors for those that could endanger themselves or their partners; we feel people with AIDS have an ethical responsibility to inform their potential sexual partners of their health status
Rights of People With AIDS:
- to as full and satisfying sexual and emotional lives as anyone else
- to quality medical treatment and quality social service provision without discrimination of any form including sexual orientation, gender, diagnosis, economic status or race
- 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
- to privacy, to confidentiality of medical records, to human respect and to choose who their significant others are.
- to die - and to LIVE - in dignity