HIV can be treated with ART (also known as HAART) to increase your CD4s and decrease your viral load. Confused? This brief glossary can help you with terms you might encounter in learning about HIV.

  • Adherence: This refers to how well a person sticks to (adheres) their prescribed treatment schedule. If you don’t take your medication on the schedule the doctor recommends, HIV medication can become resistant to treatment.
  • AIDS: acquired immune deficiency syndrome is the end stage of HIV disease, when the immune system is so damaged that the body can’t fight infection.
  • Antibody: a protein in the immune system that can fights infection and illness.
  • ART: antiretroviral therapy, also called highly active retroviral therapy or HAART.
  • ASO: an AIDS or HIV service organization.
  • CD4: immune cells that help to fight illness. .
  • Cervical dysplasia: abnormal cells on the cervix.
  • HAART: highly active antiretroviral therapy, also simply called antiretroviral therapy or ART.
  • HCV or hepatitis C: a blood-borne virus that affects the liver.
  • Health disparity: a difference in health between groups of people that is associated with unequal or unjust social conditions related to factors such as gender, race, education or income level, disability, and sexuality
  • HIV: human immunodeficiency virus attacks the immune system, but can be controlled with medication.
  • 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 comes in many types, some of which cause genital warts or or cervical cancer.
  • Immune system: groups of cells and processes that work to fight bacteria, viruses and infections.
  • Nukes and non-nukes: Nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitors and non-nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitors are 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).
  • PEP: Post-exposure prophylaxis is the use of HIV medication by an HIV-negative person to prevent transmission after exposure to the virus.
  • PrEP: Pre-exposure prophylaxis is the use of HIV medication by an HIV-negative person to prevent transmission before exposure to the virus.
  • Protease inhibitors: a type of treatment that attacks HIV during its replication process.
  • Resistance: when drugs don’t seem to be effective in treating a virus.
  • Safer sex: use of practices to decrease the risk of transmission of sexually transmitted infections.
  • Social determinants of health: the social realities that affect a person’s health, such as sexism, racism, transphobia, and poverty
  • STI/STD: sexually transmitted infections or sexually transmitted diseases.
  • Treatment as Prevention (TasP): Use of HIV treatment to prevent those with HIV from infecting sexual partners.
  • Viral load: a measure of the amount of HIV in your blood. Viral load testing does not measure HIV levels in semen/precum, vaginal fluids, anal/rectal fluids, or breast milk, and these levels can differ from the amounts found in blood.