"Although there are many specialized thesauri in the health and the social sciences, the HIV/AIDS Thesaurus is unique in its character and focus.
1. Community-based - We have tried as much as possible to make the thesaurus reflect the language and values of community-based AIDS service organizations, rather than the terminology of technical or medical professions. The thesaurus is, therefore, not based on existing systems such as Library of Congress Subject Headings (LCSH) or Medical Subject Headings (MeSH). For example, we use the term 'Poppers' rather than the more technical term 'Amyl Nitrates', and 'Drug Use' rather than the more judgmental term 'Drug Abuse'.
2. Comprehensive - Resource centres in AIDS service organizations tend to collect a broad range of HIV/AIDS material. The thesaurus reflects this broad scope by covering all aspects of HIV/AIDS: everything from basic science and treatment to prevention, the arts and the psychological, social, and political aspects of the epidemic.
3. Based on Literary Warrant - 'Literary warrant' is a concept librarians use to decide whether the creation of a subject term is justified by the quantity of literature available. We only created subject terms when there were sufficient numbers of books, periodical articles, videos, and audio tapes to warrant the heading. Other subject tools take theory as their point of departure not the production and publication of information. We avoided creating terms simply on the basis of theoretical considerations or out of a sense of symmetry. For instance, we allow for the headings 'Hepatitis B' and 'Hepatitis C', but do not include terms for other types of hepatitis (e.g. hepatitis A, hepatitis D, etc.). This decision was made because 'Hepatitis B' and 'Hepatitis C' are warranted by the number of books and videos on that topic, while books specific to other types of hepatitis are rare in our collection.
4. Based on a Psychosocial, Consumer Health Collection - The first edition of the thesaurus was developed to describe the broad subject scope of books. Narrower terms are added to the second edition so that the thesaurus can be used to describe the more specific content of periodical articles. The thesaurus still remains, however, a list of terms used to describe a psychosocial, consumer health focused collection. The overall depth of the thesaurus has not greatly increased and terms are still more general than terms that would be used to describe articles in a medical or treatment focused collection."