The principles of the German AIDS Service Organization presented in the following summarize the maxims, values and behaviors that bind the voluntary and full-time staff of the DAH member organizations, the state associations and the Federal Office as well as the members of the committees, and that serve as orientation when dealing with the constantly changing challenges posed by HIV and AIDS.
The principles were adopted by the DAH General Assembly on October 6, 2007; they are reviewed regularly and adjusted to changing conditions, if necessary.
As a society, we are an organized, independent and non-profit oriented association of autonomous member organizations – AIDS and drug treatment service organizations, prevention projects, gay and lesbian centers, housing and home care projects – that together are committed in a wide variety of ways to structural prevention and advocacy. Tasks such as education, advanced and continuing education, professional work, committee work, public relations and political work as well as the promotion of self-help at the national level are rooted in our Federal Office. The staff in the member organizations does this work mainly at the local, regional and national levels. Beyond that, they have direct contact in their daily work to the people of our target groups, guaranteeing authenticity, relevance to everyday life and local involvement in our prevention efforts. Our association is defined by the exciting and dynamic unity of a self-help and prevention organization, parent organization, professional association and advocacy group. People affected and supporters, volunteers and full-time employees complement each other in our member organizations, association structures and in the federal office, each person bringing along their own motivations, experiences, perspectives and expertise. In doing so, self-help and professionalism go hand-in-hand for us. The involvement of people from our target groups and their networks – some of us counted among them – is a significant source of our expertise, as is our close collaboration with them. At the same time, this enables us to represent their interests authentically.
Our goal is to ensure that society as a whole as well as each individual is able to handle the risks of HIV/AIDS, hepatitis and other sexually transmitted and drug-related infections in an informed, self-determined and responsible way. This specifically means: We want to empower people and enable them to be able to and want to protect themselves and others in as many situations as possible. We want to empower people with HIV/AIDS and hepatitis, and enable them to exercise their rights to self-determination, participation and solidarity in a comprehensive way. We want the government, society, the economy, the world of culture and sports, as well as the subcultures, scenes, families, friends and partners to treat people who are at risk or already affected responsibly and with solidarity.
We come from self-help, work with and for self-help and see our association as a self-help organization. We initiate, promote and support individual and collective self-help according to the principle “as much self-help as possible, as much support as necessary,” “self-advocacy comes before representation” and “respect comes before autonomy.”
We are the nationwide network of authorities on the structural prevention and promotion of health in the context of HIV/AIDS in Germany. We combine the competence of experts with that of people affected, and involve our target groups in our work. That is why we lay claim to co-determination and interfere when circumstances and decisions affect life with HIV/AIDS and hepatitis as well as prevention – both in Germany as well as internationally.
We take the attitude of the individual into account just as much as living circumstances, and exert our influence in terms of attaining our goals, for instance, by impacting structures, by performing anti-discrimination, emancipation and human rights work as well as by building up self-worth, communicating values and promoting competences. Preventing HIV transmission (primary prevention), promoting the health of people infected so that they do not become ill (secondary prevention) and sustaining the quality of life for people who are ill (tertiary prevention) form one unit in our work; “staying negative” and “living positive” go hand-in-hand for us. This structural prevention is embedded in a scientifically based approach to promoting health in a lifestyle-oriented way. We are grounded in critical acceptance of the lifestyle choices people in our target group make, promote self-help and self-organization and work closely with target groups for our own efforts and our partners on prevention and promotion of health. Just as people have various dimensions, we also see the various dimensions of health and illness (e.g. the physical, mental, social and sexual) and are mindful of the relationships between individuals and their environments as well as their resources.
Our worldviews and conceptions of humanity are as varied as we are We are united in the fact that we see humanity as multi-dimensional beings that sway between the poles of self-reliance and dependency on others, for instance, or egotism and solidarity, reason, emotion and irrationality, health and sickness, risk and safety or responsibility for oneself and responsibility for others. That is why we rely on the responsible actions of rational, understanding, adaptive, free and emancipated people who all have a right to as good and healthy a life as possible, but at the same time who know the limits of prevention.
Our commitment applies to people living with HIV/AIDS and individuals and groups who are at particular risk for or affected by HIV, AIDS, hepatitis and other sexually transmitted and drug-related infectious diseases. In Germany at present, these people are primarily men who have sex with men, immigrants from other parts of the world where HIV is particularly widespread, drug users, people in prison or detention, people who work in the sex industry as well as their relatives and dependents.
We treasure and promote diversity, openness and constructive debate. In our association and in the member organizations, positive, negative and untested people with HIV, AIDS and hepatitis, men and women, young and old, volunteers and full-time employees, drug users, former and substituted, people from diverse countries and cultures and with various sexual orientations all come together. We cater to different needs and wants, for example, by arranging suitable jobs for people with HIV, AIDS, hepatitis and other chronic diseases or by setting up controls, respecting different cultural backgrounds and tolerating and valuing other perspectives. We share a concern for HIV and AIDS and take action together for the goals of the German AIDS service organization.
We are living, right now! We belong to the communities and scenes with which and for which we work. We get involved, make contacts and network with representatives from other self-help branches, from politics, science, medicine and culture to further develop and secure structural prevention in our constantly changing society. At the same time, the people in our association assume responsibility in the AIDS service movement, human rights and civil rights movements even at the global level. They share the skills they have acquired over here with others, as well as their knowledge, and they learn from them, engage themselves at the political level and support projects in less privileged regions. We assume our responsibility for prevention and demand the same from politicians, administration, economy and society. We attend to safeguarding prevention efforts at the federal, state and community levels, work for a social climate of solidarity and acceptance, create, encourage and support inviting structures for civic engagement and canvas for a broad support of our efforts. We do not see the individual as being responsible for prevention alone, but instead always the joint responsibility of others, especially when partners are not at the same level (for example, in terms of knowledge, desire, emotion and ability).
We secure the quality of our work systematically by: involving our target groups and collaborating with them continually educating, training and further educating our full-time and volunteer staff participating in specialist discourse sharing experiences within and outside of our association developing and implementing standards and guidelines working politically to pursue our goals Handling the funds made available to us in a proper, cost-effective and transparent way is a matter of course for us.
The German AIDS Service Organization stands under the banner of the red ribbon, the world famous symbol for solidarity with HIV-positive people and people living with AIDS, and the battle against immune deficiency disorders.