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HIV Glossary

HIV can be treated with ART (or HAART) to increase your CD4s and decrease your viral load. Confused? Hopefully this brief glossary can help you navigate terms you might find on our site. If you have questions, please contact us.

  • Adherence: refers to how well a person sticks (or adheres) to their prescribed treatment schedule. If you’re not very adherent, HIV medication can become resistant to treatment.
  • AIDS: Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome.
  • Antibody: a protein in the immune system. Antibodies to HIV indicate HIV infection.
  • ART: antiretroviral therapy, also called highly active retroviral therapy or HAART.
  • ASO: AIDS service organization.
  • CD4: immune cells that help to fight illness. HIV attacks CD4 cells.
  • Cervical dysplasia: abnormal cells on the cervix.
  • HAART: highly active antiretroviral therapy or HAART, also called antiretroviral therapy or ART.
  • HCV: Hepatitis C virus is a blood-borne virus that affects the liver.
  • HIV: Human Immunodeficiency virus is the virus that leads to AIDS.
  • HIV-positive: A blood test can indicate whether you’ve been exposed to HIV. If you produce HIV antibodies, you are HIV-positive.
  • HPV: Human Papillomavirus is a group of sexually transmitted infections. Some strains may lead to cervical cancer.
  • Immune system: groups of cells and processes that work to stop invading bacteria, viruses and other pathogens.
  • Nukes and Non- nukes: Nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitors and non-nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitors, types of treatment that attack HIV during its replication.
  • PID: Pelvic Inflammatory Disease results when untreated sexually transmitted infections move into the upper reproductive tract (uterus and fallopian tubes).
  • Protease inhibitors: a type of treatment that attacks HIV during its replication process.
  • Resistance: a term used when HIV can replicate despite treatment being taken. HIV has become resistant to the treatments being used.
  • Safer sex: Sex that decreases the risk of transmission of HIV or other sexually transmitted infections.
  • STI/ STD: sexually transmitted infections or sexually transmitted diseases (both are used)
  • Viral load: a measure of the amount of HIV in your blood. Viral load testing does not measure levels of HIV in semen, vaginal secretions or breast milk, and these levels can differ from the amounts found in blood.

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