UK Community Advisory Board (UK-CAB)

Denver principles

The Denver Principles are are probably the most important HIV activist document.

The were produced by a group of HIV positive people in 1983 at a medical conference in the US. As such, they set standards of care when an HIV diagnosis was an especially stigmatising and fearful experience.

This statement has been widely supported by HIV organisations globally as a cornerstone for both the rights and responsibilities of people living with HIV.

Many of of these principles have become included in guidelines for best standards of care in other areas of health.

The Denver Principles (1983)

Statement from the People with AIDS advisory committee

We condemn attempts to label us as “victims,” a term which implies defeat, and we are only occasionally “patients,” a term which implies passivity, helplessness, and dependence upon the care of others.
We are “People With AIDS.”


  1. 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.
  2. Not scapegoat people with AIDS, blame us for the epidemic or generalize about our lifestyles.


  1. Form caucuses to choose their own representatives, to deal with the media, to choose their own agenda and to plan their own strategies.
  2. Be involved at every level of decision-making and specifically serve on the boards of directors of provider organizations.
  3. Be included in all AIDS forums with equal credibility as other participants, to share their own experiences and knowledge.
  4. Substitute low-risk sexual behaviors for those which 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.


  1. To as full and satisfying sexual and emotional lives as anyone else.
  2. To quality medical treatment and quality social service provision without discrimination of any form including sexual orientation, gender, diagnosis, economic status or race.
  3. 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.
  4. To privacy, to confidentiality of medical records, to human respect and to choose who their significant others are.
  5. To die – and to LIVE – in dignity.

Denver 1983

Thanks to ACT-UP New York for maintaining the online version of this document.