Their Condition Is Not Your Adjective To Use, It's Time To Change Your Vocabulary

Their Condition Is Not Your Adjective To Use, It's Time To Change Your Vocabulary

Using conditions as adjectives is malicious and hurtful. Here's why you should find new words in your vocabulary.


We've all experienced it. The feeling when your stomach hallows out and sinks lower than you knew was even possible, twisting itself into tight, uneasy knots. This feeling, this reaction can be onset by a number of things. Like hearing bad news, finding out you forgot to submit a paper on time or being called on in a lecture hall of two-hundred people. For some, it's nails on a chalkboard, people chewing with their mouth open or the mere sight of a spider. For me? It's hearing conditions used as adjectives.

I will never understand why some feel using conditions to describe someone or something is acceptable. Autism, cancer, and mental retardation; they've affected individuals and families that we all know. It shatters my heart entirely. It's brutal, venomed and callous.

I have witnessed far too many accounts of this dehumanizing misuse of these illnesses. People fail in their meaningless attempts to find another word in their vocabulary to describe someone or something other than, retarded, autistic or cancerous. This level of arrogance is one that I wish would cease immediately, however, is not one that I have the ability to enforce its termination upon anyone. We, all too often, act as if their conditions define them.

Spending just a few minutes with an individual who is living with a disability or illness would completely demolish that mindset. Those who battle cancer, like my aunt Bobbi, are some of the strongest people I've ever come to know. Those who have autism or any intellectual impairment are some of the most genuine, kind-hearted individuals I know and don't even get me started on the families of these wonderful humans.

My sister is the most patient, nurturing and just flat out a loving woman I know. She is so driven and man oh man does she have her head screwed on as tight as it will go. My sensitivity to the usage of these conditions really stemmed from her intolerant mindset toward it. Four years ago, she started working at an Autism Academy which gives children and young adults the opportunity to be educated in an environment that is most beneficial to them.

My sister, an aspiring occupational therapist, was given the privilege of working alongside a number of individuals with a variety of intellectual disabilities. Seeing her compassion and love for these individuals, as well as listening to all her stories, sparked my desire to truly fight for the abolishment of the negative stigmatism they're given and misuse of their condition as adjectives.

I could see the passion and sadness in her eyes when she shared this powerful thought with me. "I can tell you there are far more than their diagnosis titles describes them, and anyone who uses that word to name call someone does not know how truly special this population is."

When you hear someone calling another person cancer or when you hear someone call something or someone autistic or retarded, bring it to their attention. They clearly haven't been told how hurtful those words can mean to absolutely anyone.

These are people. Yes. People with insanely massive hearts, pure souls, and even more beautiful minds. Just because they are different than us doesn't mean we have the right to use conditions in a negative context because, quite frankly, their condition makes them who they are. It makes them powerful. More powerful than I could ever be and I am so thankful to know each and every one of them. They've taught me that there is a certain beauty when you accept and treat others equally. I hope we omit the use of these illnesses in our vocabulary and begin to understand that they don't define that individual. Nor should anything else, for that matter.

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A Second Person Has Achieved Long-Term Remission Of The HIV Virus

A second man has had long term remission of the HIV virus.


Over a decade after the first man, known as the Berlin Patient, was declared HIV-free, another patient may also be cured. Though it's too early for scientists to say for sure, the London Patient has been in a long term remission for around 18 months without the help of medication. Both men were treated with a bone marrow transplant. However, these stem cells carried a rare mutation in the genes that affect the production of the CCR5 protein, which HIV viruses latch onto to enter the cell. The virus cannot latch onto the mutated version of the protein, thus blocking its entry into the cells.

With the transplant of these HIV resistant genes, the body effectively builds a new immune system free of the virus.

After the Berlin Patient went into remission, scientists tried and failed to replicate the cure and were unable to until the London Patient, whose HIV count has reduced into undetectable numbers. While this is extremely helpful, bone marrow transplants are not a viable option to cure all HIV infected people, as it is an extremely risky process and comes with many side effects. Even so, scientists are developing ways to extract bone marrow from HIV infected people, genetically modifying them to produce the same mutations on the CCR5 gene or the inability to express that gene at all, and then replacing it back into the patient so they can still build resistance without the negative effects of a bone marrow transplant. There have also been babies whose genomes have been edited to remove the CCR5 gene, allowing them to grow up resistant to HIV.

This does not eliminate the threat of the HIV virus, however.

There is another strand of the virus, called X4, that uses the CXCR4 protein to enter the cell. Even if the editing of the CCR5 allows immunity against one strand, it is possible for a person to be infected with the X4 strand of the virus. Despite this, immunization against one strand could save a countless number of lives, as well as the vaccine that is currently in the stages of development for HIV. Along with the London Patient, there are 37 other patients who have received bone marrow transplants, six of which from donors without the mutation.

Of these patients, number 19, known as the Dusseldorf Patient, has been off anti-HIV drugs for 4 months. It may not be a complete cure, but it is definitely a step in the right direction.

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