If Language Solutions did a “Wrapped,” à la Spotify, it would show that 38 of our projects in 2022 were translations about HIV. These included 2 global conferences (AIDS 2022 in Montreal and Fast-Track Cities 2022 in Seville), more than 77,500 words translated between 3 languages (English, French, and Spanish), 7 file formats, and 235 hours of project management. Our translations about HIV were primarily for 1 client (Gilead Sciences) and fell into 2 main categories (awareness and prescription drug information).
We’ve been doing translations about HIV and other topics for Gilead Sciences for years. Some of their materials that we translate are written to educate people about overall sexual health, including HIV prevention and treatment. Others focus on important facts about living with HIV, such as the goal of becoming “undetectable.” This means that the viral load of HIV is so low that it cannot be measured by a lab test. Many English-language materials about HIV talk about “being undetectable.” This wording, however, threw up a flag when translating into Spanish because it could give the impression that people with HIV are, or should be, invisible. And while it is important to teach and know that HIV is not visible to the naked eye, we certainly don’t want our translations about HIV to contribute to erasure of HIV-positive individuals. So, whenever the source English uses “being undetectable,” our Spanish translation is always more specific about what exactly is undetectable: viral load, virus, level, etc. This more literal description communicates the same idea as the English while avoiding potentially damaging language in Spanish.
As part of our work for AIDS 2022 and Fast-Track Cities 2022, we translated several videos for Gilead HIV’s Together campaign into French and Spanish. This campaign puts a spotlight on people and organizations working to help end the HIV epidemic around the world. Among these are Sustained Health Initiatives of the Philippines, led by Dr. Kate Leyritana, and the Gilead COMPASS Initiative. COMPASS stands for Commitment to Partnership in Addressing HIV in the Southern States, and the video we subtitled features Rev. Dr. Jonathan Lee Walton and Rev. Dr. Shonda Jones, both faculty at Wake Forest University, discussing the importance of partnering with religious institutions in the southern US to help destigmatize HIV. Eliminating stigma is one important step towards preventing the spread of HIV.
So is educating people about the options for PrEP (pre-exposure prophylaxis) and antiretroviral drugs. This is where our translations about HIV prescription medicines comes in. Over the past several years we’ve translated various informational brochures, important safety information sheets, and presentations about the Gilead medications Biktarvy, Descovy, and Truvada. These materials help inform patients about treatment options that they may want to ask their healthcare provider about. It can feel overwhelming or nerve-wracking to talk to a doctor about HIV. The more people know, the more empowered we hope they feel to have these conversations with confidence.
This is part of the idea behind the Descovy Real Stories campaign, which we’ve also worked on for Gilead. These are short clips featuring real people from across the US who take Descovy for PrEP. Not only do viewers get some basic information about PrEP medicines, but they also may identify with the stories being told. This can help reduce misconceptions and stigma. You can watch Kevin and Steve tell their Descovy for PrEP stories in English and Spanish!
According to an article in “Infectious Disease Special Edition,” language was a significant barrier to HIV testing and treatment among Hispanic/Latino gay and bisexual men living in the Atlanta metro area in recent years. An informational brochure is only informational if you can read it! Making information about HIV available in languages other than English is a part of culturally competent care, allowing it to reach a wider audience and hopefully multiplying its effectiveness. We hope that by providing translations about HIV, we can do our part to help end the HIV epidemic. For further information about HIV in more than 23 languages, you can also check out the AIDSMAP site.