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Words Matter: The Power of Language to Strengthen Services for HIV and Substance Use Disorder


This discussion guide is intended to elicit a comprehensive and concrete conversation about language, stigma, and discrimination as a means of strengthening care systems and ensuring that people who seek care for HIV and/or substance use disorders, including opioid use disorder, are treated with respect and dignity. The guide includes five discussion packages, which are intended to be used by individuals in state health departments, agencies, and service organizations providing services to people with HIV and/or substance use disorders. This tool also provides background, instructions, and resources to help you implement the discussion packages.


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Funding for this initiative was made possible by grant no. 1H79TI083022 from SAMHSA. The views expressed in written conference materials or publications and by speakers and moderators do not necessarily reflect the official policies of the Department of Health and Human Services; nor does mention of trade names, commercial practices, or organizations imply endorsement by the U.S. Government.