HIV 101 GLOSSARY
This glossary is courtesy
of the Southern Arizona AIDS Foundation’s
HIV/AIDS Educator Committee.
Abstinence: Refraining from
sexual intercourse or intravenous drug use.
Syndrome (AIDS): A series of symptoms
or infections that can develop as a result of
human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection,
which makes the immune system less able to fight
Alternative Therapies: Non-medical
approaches that some people believe to be effective
in treating HIV infection, including acupuncture,
massage, visualization, natural supplements and
Ambiguous test results: Results
that are neither clearly negative nor clearly
positive. Used here to describe HIV antibody test
results in which the EIA (enzyme immunoassay-
see definition) shows the presence of HIV antibodies
but the Western Blot does not. To allow detectable
antibodies to develop, a person whose test results
are ambiguous should be retested within three
months of possible exposure to HIV.
Anal sex (anal
intercourse): Penetration of the anus
by the penis or other objects.
Anonymous testing: Testing in
which no information that identifies a person
is recorded. Only the person tested can obtain
Antibody: A substance in the
blood that forms when disease agents such as viruses,
bacteria, fungi and parasites invade the body.
Although antibodies usually defend the body against
invading disease agents, HIV antibodies, over
time, give no such protection.
Antibody-negative test result:
Used here to describe the results of a test in
which no signs of antibodies to HIV are detected
in the blood or in fluids from the mouth. This result can mean either
the invidual does not have HIV or the individual has recently become infected
with HIV but has not developed antibodies for HIV. It can take up to 3 months for an invidual to develop antibodies that can be detected by standard HIV testing.
Antibody-positive test result:
Used here to describe the results of a test in
which antibodies to HIV are detected in the blood
or in fluids from the mouth. A person is assumed
to be infected with HIV if the results of both
the EIA and Western blot tests are positive.
Antigen: A substance that stimulates
the production of antibodies.
Antigen test: A blood test that
looks for a part of HIV rather than for antibodies
to HIV. For a short period of tome, this test
detects HIV in people who were recently infected
with HIV but who do not yet have detectable antibodies.
To further protect the blood supply, the Food
and Drug Administration (FDA) added this test
in 1996, as an interim measure to the tests for
HIV antibodies in place since 1985.
Antiviral drugs: Drugs that
slow the pace of HIV infection by suppressing
the ability of HIV to replicate itself.
Asymptomatic: No apparent symptoms
of illness even though the individual tests positive
AZT: The first antiviral drug
with clinically beneficial effects on the treatment
Bacterial infections: Diseases
that bacteria cause, such as syphilis. Most respond
to antibiotic treatment.
Barebacking: A term that originated in the gay community as a slang for unprotected anal sex. More.
Bisexual: A person who is romantically
or sexually attracted to people of the same sex
and of the opposite sex.
Blood-borne disease: An infection
carried in the bloodstream, such as HIV infection
and Hepatitis C infection.
Blood-to-blood contact: The
mixing together of blood from more than one person.
The primary ways HIV can be spread through blood-to-blood
contact are the use of shared needles and syringes,
blood transfusions (rare), receipt of blood components
or clotting factors (rare), organ transplants
(rare since 1985), and transmission from mother
to child during birth.
Casual contact: Ordinary social
contact, such as standing or sitting near someone,
sharing utensils, office space, bathrooms, phones
and swimming pools, shaking hands, kissing on
the cheek. People cannot get HIV from casual contact.
CD4+ cell: See T cell.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
(CDC): A federal disease prevention agency,
which is part of the US Department of Health and
Human Services, that provides national laboratory
and health and safety guidelines and recommendations.
The CDC also tracks diseases throughout the world,
and performs basic research involving laboratory,
behavioral science, epidemiology, and other studies
Combination therapy: Treatments,
sometimes called “drug cocktails,”
involving a combination of mulitple antiviral
drugs that can dramatically inhibit HIV infection.
Condom: A sheath made of latex,
polyurethane or lamb intestine that fits over
an erect penis. When used correctly and consistently,
latex condoms have been shown to greatly reduce
the risk of HIV infection. Condoms made of lamb
intestine are effective for birth control, but
do not protect against the spread of HIV. See
also Female Condom.
Confidential testing: Testing
in which the results are recorded, but are not
given out without permission of the person tested,
except as required by state law.
Confidentiality: Used here to
describe keeping medical information, including
HIV status, confidential or private.
Contaminated needles: Needles
that have been used by someone and not properly
cleaned. People can become infected with HIV and/or Hepatitis C by
using a needle and syringe that contains blood
from a person who has HIV and/or Hepatitis C.
Dental dam: Used during oral
sex as a barrier between a person’s mouth
and their partner’s vagina or anus. Usually
is a flat sheet of latex.
EIA (enzyme immunoassay): A
standard test used to detect the presence of HIV.
When an EIA detects antibodies to HIV, the result
must be confirmed by the Western Blot test or
immuno-flourescence assay (IFA) before a person
is considered to have HIV. Formerly referred to
Ejaculate: v. To release semen;
n. The semen released through ejaculation during
orgasm. See Semen.
ELISA: see EIA.
False negative test result: Used
here to describe the results of a test for HIV
antibodies that do not show the presence of HIV
even though the sample of blood or fluid from
the mouth contains the virus. Usually found in
people who were recently infected with HIV but
who do not have detectable antibodies.
False positive test result:
Used here to describe the results of a test for
HIV antibodies that do show the presence of HIV
even though the sample of blood or fluid from
the mouth does not contain HIV.
Female condom: A tube made of
polyurethane with a ring at each end that lines
the vagina and covers part of the labia. Has been
shown to be effective against sexually transmitted
diseases (STDS) including HIV infection.
Gay: Being romantically or sexually
attracted to someone of the same sex. Typically
a man who is attracted to other men. See also
Hemophilia: A hereditary blood
disorder that prevents blood from clotting properly.
Hepatitis C: A contagious liver disease that results from infection with the hepatitis C virus. It can range in severity from a mild illness lasting a few weeks to a serious, lifelong illness. Hepatitis C is usually spread when blood from a person infected with the hepatitis C virus enters the body of someone who is not infected. Most people become infected with the hepatitis C virus by sharing needles or other equipment to inject drugs.
Heterosexual: Being romantically
or sexually attracted to someone of the opposite
High Risk Negative Individuals: are
HIV Negative and have HIGH risk Sexual or Substance Abuse behaviors.
Sexual Risks includes:
- anonymous sex
- multiple sex partners
- unprotected sex
- men who have sex with men
- men on the "Down Low" (men self identified as heterosexual who have sex with other men)
- having a history of sexual transmitted infections/diseases (STIs/STDs)
- current STI/STD.
- injection drug use (IDU) and/or other controlled substance usage
- sharing needles
- engaging in sex while high on a drug and/or sex while under the influence of alcohol.
HIP/AZ: HIV Intervention and Prevention / Arizona.
Homosexual: See Gay.
Host: Use here to describe where
a germ lives. For example, a person who has HIV
is the host for the virus.
Virus (HIV): A virus that weakens several
body systems and destroys the body’s immune
system, making it easier for life threatening
opportunistic infections and cancers to invade
A state in which the immune system's ability to fight infectious disease is compromised or entirely absent.
The state of being protected from a disease.
A system of the body that helps it to
Immunization: A method to trigger
the body’s defenses against a specific disease.
For example, the polio vaccination triggers the
immune system to create immunity to polio infection.
Immunoflourescence assay (IFA): A
blood test that detects antibodies to HIV. Used
to confirm EIA results.
Infectious disease: A disease
that is caused by or can be transmitted by germs.
Not all diseases are highly contagious (easily
transmitted to other people). For example, HIV
is highly infectious, but is not easily or casually
Injection drug use: See IV drug
IV drug use: IV stands for intravenous
(into the veins). The use of a needle and syringe
to inject drugs into the body.
Latex dam: See Dental dam.
Lesbian: A woman who is romantically
or sexually attracted to other women.
Lesion: An abnormal change in
tissue or structure of an organ or body part due
to an injury or disease.
Lubricant: Used here to describe
a substance used to reduce friction during sex.
Masturbation: Massaging one's
own genitals, often to the point of orgasm.
Monogamy: Two people have sex
only with each other over a period of time.
Mucous membrane: A lining or
membrane of all body passages that have an outside
opening, such as the mouth and vagina. The glands
in the mucous membrane produce mucous.
Mutual masturbation: Massaging
a partner’s genitals, or one’s own
in the presence of a partner, often to the point
National Institutes of Health (NIH):
An agency of the US Department of Health and Human
Services that supports and conducts biomedical
and health research, trains scientists and doctors,
and writes a publishes scientific and medical
Needle exchanges: Programs that
provide IV drug users (IVDU’s) with new,
sterile needles and syringes to reduce the spread
of HIV and Hepatitis C from shared equipment. Research has shown
that these controversial programs do not increase
drug use and can actually be an important factor
in IVDU’s seeking treatment.
Needle stick, stab or jab: A
needle puncture of the skin, usually accidental.
Non-communicable disease: A
disease that is NOT transmitted from person to
Nonoxynol-9: A chemical (spermicide)
that has been used in some contraceptive creams,
foams and jellies that kills sperm. It does not prevent HIV transmission, and can actually
increase the possibility of HIV transmission as
it can often cause irritation of the skin.
Opportunistic infections: An infection caused by pathogens (bacterial, viral, fungal) that usually do not cause disease in a healthy inividual, (i.e. one with a healthy immune system). A compromised immune system presents an "opportunity" for the pathogen to infect any organ in the body.
Oral sex: Contact of the mouth
or tongue with a partner’s penis, vagina,
or anus. While no one knows exactly what the degree of risk is, evidence suggests that the risk is less than that of unprotected anal or vaginal sex; however, there is still risk of HIV or other STD transmission.
Partner notification: The process
of letting sex and needle-sharing partners of
an HIV infected person know that they may be at
risk of having HIV.
Protease inhibitors: A new class
of antiviral drugs that suppress HIV by blocking
infected cells from making copies of HIV.
Replicate: Used here to describe
the ability of HIV to make copies of itself.
Risk behavior: Used here to
describe activities that put people at increased
risk of getting HIV.
Risk group: For statistical
purposes, a collection of people thought to have
something in common that puts them at risk of
getting a disease.
Safe sex: Sexual practices that
involve little or no exchange of blood, semen,
or vaginal fluid. Often safe sex involves the
use of a condom or other latex barrier, or refraining
from sexual activities that involve higher risk
of HIV transmission.
Screened blood: Blood that has
been tested for the HIV antibody.
fluid containing sperm and white blood cells,
which is ejaculated from the penis during orgasm.
HIV can be spread through semen.
Sero-conversion: Used here to
describe the changes from an absence of HIV antibodies
in the blood to the presence of HIV antibodies
in the blood of an HIV infected person. After
being exposed to HIV, sero-conversion marks the
point at which someone is considered to be infected
Serodiscordant Relationships: relationships made up of one positive partner and one negative partner
Sex (sexual intercourse): Genital
contact between individuals which involves contact
with a partner’s vagina, penis or anus.
Sexual orientation: The romantic
or sexual attraction people feel for others, whether
of their own sex, the opposite sex, or both sexes.
Sexually transmitted disease (STD):
A disease that spreads during sex, through genital
contact between people, such as gonorrhea, syphilis,
herpes and HIV. Also known as STIs (sexually transmitted
SIV (simian immunodeficiency virus):
A virus, similar to HIV in humans, that
infects monkeys and other primates in west and
Stages of Change Model: Describes a non-linear process that incluces at least 5 stages. It is helpful in assisting individuals in determining what actions they need to take in order to continue in their progress towards behavior change.
- Precontemplation: Individual has the problem (whether he/she recognises it or not) and has no intention of changing.
- Contemplation: Individual recognises the problem and is seriously thinking about changing.
- Preparation: Individual recognises the problem and intends to change the behaviour within the next month.
- Action: Individual has enacted consistent behaviour change for less than six months.
- Maintenance: Individual maintains new behaviour for six months or more.
- Relapse: Returning to older behaviors and abandoning the new changes. It can occure at any time during a behavior change process.
Stigma: A social mark of shame or discredit,
whether visible or not, that sets people apart
here to describe a set of symptoms or related
medical problems or infections.
T-cell: A type of white blood
cell essential to the body’s immune system.
Helps regulate the immune system and control the
functions of other types of white blood cells.
T-cell count (CD4+ count): A
marker that measures the effect of HIV infection
on a person’s immune system.
Transfusion: The use of donated
blood in a medical procedure.
Transplant: The transfer of
an organ or tissue from one person to another.
Tuberculosis (TB): A contagious
disease that primarily affects the lungs.
Universal precautions: Guidelines used by health
care providers to help protect them against blood
borne germs, such as HIV.
Universal precautions: The use of protective barriers such as gloves, gowns, aprons, masks, or protective eyewear, which can reduce the risk of exposure of the health care worker's skin or mucous membranes to potentially infective materials. In addition, under universal precautions, it is recommended that all health care workers take precautions to prevent injuries caused by needles, scalpels, and other sharp instruments or devices.
Vaccine: A substance made from
modified or denatured viruses or bacteria that
helps to protect people against a particular disease.
Fluid that provides moisture and lubrication in
the vagina. HIV can be spread through vaginal
(vaginal intercourse): Sex in which the
vagina is penetrated, for example by a penis or
Viral load: The amount of HIV
RNA (ribonucleic acid) in a cubic milliliter of
blood. As viral load increases, the chance of
illness due to HIV increases.
Viral load test: A marker that
measures the amount of HIV RNA in the blood. Used
by doctors to help make decisions about treatment.
The lower the viral load, the better chances a
person living with HIV has in remaining healthy.
germ, much smaller than a bacterium, whose survival
depends on cells in the host. A virus, such as
HIV, often destroys the cells that it infects.
Western Blot: A blood test that
detects antibodies to HIV-1. Used to confirm EIA
White blood cells: A group of
blood cell types, such as T-cells, B-cells, macrophages,
and monocytes whose primary function is to fight
infection. White blood cells are the main target