Why is it crass or impolite to say "the HIV"

To distinguish the subtle difference between “in hospital” and “in the hospital” that British English has, I have always heard Americans use “at” instead of “in” to describe someone who works there or is just visiting. If I went to my doctor’s office and he wasn’t there, and the nurse said he was “in the hospital” I would ask if he was okay. If the nurse says he is “at the hospital”, I would ask when he would be back.

Are you taking the pot?

According to this, British little piggies go “to the market”; but gay and lesbian little piggies go “to market.”

(Oddly, the gay and lesbian piggies don’t get roast beef or wee on the way home).

So, Brits no longer go “to market, to market, to buy a fat pig / Home again, home again, jiggety jig”?

I’ve watched a number of british television shows and I swear I’ve heard them say “catch cold” and “to market” but I don’t have any specific cites.

Anyhow I agree that grammatically there are very few differences between British and American dialects, but I think it’s more than just “hospital.”

And yeah, we would say “at the ______” for things like school, hospital, jail, etc to distinguish between “in _____”

But it is. Names of viruses, bugs, syndromes, illnesses… are very often treated as proper nouns. Someone doesn’t have the Down’s either, although they may have the downs.

The USA is a proper noun as well, but we don’t just say “USA” we always put the article in front of it. I don’t buy this thing about proper nouns not needing articles.

The Thames, The Astrodome, The Colosseum, The Leaning Tower of Pisa, etc.

The ebola virus is commonly written that way. “An outbreak of the Ebola virus killed 80 people” for example. You could also just say “An outbreak of Ebola killed 80 people” and it would sound just as right. But HIV doesn’t seem to have that flexibility.

You may well have, as many British shows, especially those popular in America, have historical settings. Anyway, as I said, “catch cold” is used, but, like the “hospital” case, has a subtly different meaning from"catch a cold", which is also used. However, British people (unlike Americans) will almost never use “market”, with or without articles, to refer to a shop or store. (They won’t often use “store” either.) A market is not a single business but an agglomeration of many businesses - many stalls, selling different things - often temporary and in the open air, and was a much more important aspect of life in the fairly distant past than it is today. Even in the past, though, I think “going to market” without an article tended to imply that you going to sell, rather than just buy. A farmer would take his produce to market, to sell; a wage earner might go to the market to buy some of it.

Anyhow I agree that grammatically there are very few differences between British and American dialects, but I think it’s more than just “hospital.”

Sure, but that just marks yet another subtle semantic distinction. The prisoner is in jail, the guard, who is currently at work there, is in the jail, and the visitor, who is there very temporarily, is at the jail (especially if you want to emphasize that he will very soon be be somewhere else, or that he has scarcely been inside at all). I don’t think British and American English differ over this. (They do differ over “school”, but in different respects.)

Sure it does. “Magic Johnson was diagnosed with the HIV virus.” “Magic Johnson was diagnosed with HIV.”

But you wouldn’t say “An outbreak of the Ebola killed 80 people.”
(And forget the whole “but then you’re saying virus twice” thing for “the HIV virus.” That is just the way the language is. “The HIV virus” brings up 11,500,000 hits on Google.)

I’m baffled by usage regarding the country now known as Ukraine. I grew up calling the region “the Ukraine,” or else Ukrainia. Now I only hear Ukraine.
Regarding Ebola virus, “the Ebola” would seem to refer to the region the virus is from. But I would probably only ever use “Ebola virus,” as the article seems superfluous.
Odd, innit?

In 1993, after Ukraine became independent, its government asked to be referred to simply as Ukraine. The Ukraine in english, as neither Russian nor Ukrainian uses articles, is usually regarded now as, unintentionally or not, subtly undermining its status as a country in its own right rather than a geographical location of a larger national body as it was when it was part of the USSR.