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"AIDS" stands for Acquired
Immune Deficiency Syndrome. AIDS is
the name given to a group of diseases
and conditions that happen when the
body's immune system is damaged by
HIV. We say someone who is HIV-positive
has AIDS when they start getting very
sick from the virus. People with AIDS
can have infections in the lungs,
brain and eyes. They can lose a lot
of weight, get diarrhea and get cancer.
AIDS Dementia Complex
This is an illness that affects the
brain in people who have HIV or AIDS.
People with it can have trouble with
coordination, have mood swings, have
a bad memory and have trouble thinking
in general. This is a very common
problem in people with HIV/AIDS and
it gets worse as time passes once
you have it.
This is what we call any kind of sickness
that you get because your immune system
is weak from HIV/AIDS. It's either
when an Opportunistic Infection becomes
active and starts to make you sick.
Or it's a disease or problem that
isn't an infection - meaning it doesn't
come from germs.
These are made by the immune system
to fight infection. They are very
small particles in the blood or other
body fluids that work against bacteria,
viruses and other harmful things in
the body. If they are working right
and the harmful "invader"
is not too serious, they can sometimes
find, kill or make it harmless. The
body's antibodies cannot kill HIV.
Anything that makes the immune system
produce antibodies. Antigens are usually
"foreign" things such as
bacteria or viruses that invade the
A microscopic organism or germ (it
can't be seen by the human eye unless
it's under a microscope) made up of
a single cell. Many bacteria can cause
disease in humans.
A type of cell that protects the body
against infections caused by viruses,
fungi (such as yeast) or protozoa.
CD4 cells send a message to the rest
of the body to make antibodies to
This is a blood test that measures
the number of CD4 cells in your body.
It's the test that gives the best
idea of what stage of HIV disease
you are at and strong your immune
system is. It should be done every
four to six months, or more often
if your viral load seems to be rising
or if you've been sick.
- In HIV-negative adult men, the
usual CD4 count ranges from 400
to 1,200 CD4 cells per cubic millimetre
- In HIV-negative adult women, it
ranges from 500 to 1,600 CD4 cells
per cubic millilitre.
- It is important to note that test
can vary from lab to lab but that
these CD4 counts are usual for HIV-negative
A bacteria that causes one of the
most common sexually transmitted diseases
(STDs). It can infect the throat,
rectum, penis, vagina, and eyes. Many
people, especially women, don't have
any symptoms and don't even know it
if they have it. Chlamydia can be
treated with antibiotics.
See Combination Therapy.
If you have a certain type of infection
in addition to HIV or AIDS, it's called
a co-infection. This type of infection
is something anyone could get, whether
or not they have HIV or AIDS. Examples
include hepatitis and tuberculosis.
Three or more drugs or treatments
used together to get the best results
against HIV infection and/or AIDS.
A herpes virus. About half of the
adults in Canada have been infected
with CMV. If you have a healthy immune
system, you might not know you have
it. Maybe you'll get a short sickness
that's like the flu or you may have
no symptoms at all. If your immune
system is weak, perhaps from HIV/AIDS,
it can cause problems in your eyes,
digestive system, lungs or brain.
A very small particle in our body,
inside our genes. DNA carries the
genetic information that allows cells
to reproduce (make new cells). DNA
makes up the main part of chromosomes,
which are the structures that pass
on hereditary (from your parents)
A protein that speeds up a chemical
The name of a group of organisms that
grow on or life off of other things.
You can find them in nature and inside
the body. Both yeast and moulds are
A name given to certain tiny bacterias
or organisms that cause diseases.
Highly Active Antiretroviral Therapy,
a term for a very powerful, effective
anti-HIV treatment. The usual HAART
treatment combines three or more different
drugs. These treatments have been
shown to lower the amount of virus
so that it becomes hardly noticeable
in a person's blood, but that doesn't
the person is cured.
"HIV" stands for Human Immunodeficiency
- Human means it affects humans
- Immunodeficiency means that something
is deficient, or there is not enough
of it, in the immune system
- Virus is something that infects
someone, and that can be spread
from one person to another
- HIV is the virus that causes AIDS.
Human Papilloma Virus (HPV)
A virus that causes genital warts.
The warts appear around the head of
the penis, the vulval lips, in the
vagina, on the cervix, on the anus
or in the rectum. HPV can lead to
cervical dysplasia (a condition that
might lead to cancer) and cervical
cancer in women and anal dysplasia
and anal cancer in men.
The body's natural defence system
that fights infections and disease.
Cancerous lesions on the skin and/or
organs caused by blood vessels growing
wrong. It usually looks like pink
or purple painless spots on the surface
of the skin or in the mouth. It can
also appear in the intestines, lymph
nodes and lungs, and can also attack
Any change in body tissue caused by
disease. For example, an infected
area or sore in a skin disease.
Lymph or Lymph Fluid
A yellowish fluid that carries lymphocytes.
Lymph is made from tissue fluids and
is collected from all parts of the
body. It goes into the blood through
Special areas in the body where white
blood cells and other important immune
cells are found. Also called glands.
The tissues and organs that create,
store and carry white blood cells,
which fight infection and other diseases.
This system includes lymphoid organs,
lymph nodes and lymphatic vessels.
A network of channels in the body,
like blood vessels, that carry lymph
to the immune system and into the
A type of white blood cell.
Organs act as a filter for the body.
They trap invaders (such as bacteria
and viruses) and hands them over to
immune cells that are grouped together
there. They include tonsils, adenoids,
lymph nodes, spleen, thymus and other
Tissue involved in the making of lymph
fluid, lymphocytes and antibodies.
Particular infections that cause disease
in someone with a damaged immune system.
These illnesses don't usually cause
disease in someone with a healthy
immune system. People with HIV infection
can have opportunistic infections
of the lungs, brain, eyes and other
Opportunistic infections common in
people with AIDS include Pneumocystis
carinii pneumonia (PCP), Kaposi's
sarcoma, other parasitic, viral and
fungal infections and some types of
The most common fungal infection in
people who have HIV. Candida is a
yeast found in most people and is
normally kept under control by your
immune system and "friendly"
bacteria in your body. In the mouth,
oral candidiasis looks like white
patches on your gums and your tongue
and is also known as thrush.
Oral hairy leukoplakia
A viral infection that gives you a
hairy white coating on the inside
of your mouth and on the sides of
your tongue. Experts think it might
be caused by the Epstein-Barr virus
and with the human papilloma virus
A plant or animal that lives and feeds
on or within another living thing.
It usually causes harm to that living
A gland located near the ear that
A treatment that helps to prevent
a disease or condition before it happens
or comes back.
An enzyme that HIV uses to break up
large proteins into smaller ones.
The smaller proteins then make copies
of HIV or new viruses.
Protease Inhibitors (PIs)
A drug that blocks the action of the
HIV protease enzyme. By blocking that
enzyme, it prevents HIV from replicating,
even in cells that are already infected.
Some examples of these drugs are saquinavir,
nelfinavir and indinavir.
Organic compounds found naturally
in all living cells. Some hormones
and all enzymes are proteins.
A single-cell living thing that can
only reproduce itself when it's living
inside another living thing.
What we call it when viruses reproduce,
or make new versions of themselves.
A type of virus. While regular viruses
store their genetic information on
a DNA molecule, retroviruses store
it on a RNA molecule. HIV is an example
of a retrovirus.
Reverse Transcriptase Inhibitors
A drug that blocks retroviral replication
(stops it from making new versions
of itself). So it doesn't kill or
harm a virus, just slows down its
spread through the body. RTI drugs
include AZT, ddI, 3TC, d4T, abacavir,
nevirapine and efavirenz.
RNA (Ribonucleic Acid)
This is similar to DNA. It's a place
where certain kinds of cells carry
their genetic information. HIV carries
its genetic information in RNA, while
most viruses store it in DNA.
When the body develops antibodies
to an antigen. When a person develops
antibodies to HIV, we say they seroconvert
from antibody-negative to antibody-positive.
It can take a few weeks to several
months for antibodies to the virus
to develop. After antibodies to HIV
appear in the blood, a person would
test positive on an HIV test.
An effect of a drug or therapy that
isn't wanted. It usually means a negative
effect, such as headache, skin rash
or liver damage.
See CD4 Cells.
See CD4 Cells.
See oral candidiasis.
A sickness caused by a protozoan called
Toxoplasma gondii. You can get toxo
by eating raw or undercooked meat
that's contaminated with the germ.
It may also be found in the feces
of cats. Toxo gets into your body
through your mouth and digestive system.
If your immune system is weakened,
toxo can make you really sick.
A medicine that contains a small amount
of a particular antigen. It's designed
so you won't get sick, but the immune
system system will respond and learn
how to fight the antigen. Later, if
you come in contact with that germ
or bacteria, you won't get sick. We
have vaccines for some illnesses,
such as Hepatitis A and B, but not
The measurement of the amount of HIV
virus in the blood. A viral load test
shows you many copies of itself HIV
has made in your body. Doctors watch
HIV-positive people's viral load because
it shows how much disease is progressing.
It's better to have a low viral load.
A germ that reproduces within the
cells of the person it infects. In
people, viruses cause diseases such
as measles, mumps, polio, influenza
and the common cold. Viruses can be
spread from one person to another.
A complication of HIV or AIDS disease.
It's when a person loses at least
10 per cent of their body weight without
try to lose this weight. Usually,
the person also has ongoing diarrhea,
weakness and fever.
Other HIV/AIDS glossaries on the
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