HIV terminology

The world of HIV is a complex one. There are lots of terms and phrases that can leave a non-medical person in the dust. The purpose of this article is to shed some light on a few of the words and phrases surrounding HIV/AIDS.

Acquired -to come into possession or ownership of

Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome-When the immune system is so compromised that it can no longer fight off life threatening infections. AIDS is the more severe stage of HIV

Adherence-taking medications exactly as prescribed. Failure to take your medications exactly as prescribed can lead to the virus becoming resistant and the virus can then mutate.

Adverse Drug Reaction-a bad reaction to medication taken over a period of time

Antepartum-the time period before childbirth

Antibiotic-a natural or man-made substance that can kill or stop the growth of bacteria or fungi that can cause infections

Antibody-a protein produced by the body's immune system to recognize and fight infectious organisms and other foreign substances that enter the body.

Antifungal-a natural or man-made substance that can kill or stop the growth of a fungus

Antigen-Any substance considered foreign to the body that can stimulate the body to produce antibodies against it.

Antiretroviral-A drug that interferes with the ability of a retrovirus, such as HIV, to make more copies of itself

Antiretroviral therapy-treatment with drugs that inhibit the ability of retroviruses, such as HIV, to multiply in the body. The antiretroviral therapy recommended for HIV infection is referred to as highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART), which uses a combination of drugs to attack HIV at different points in its life cycle.

Asymptomatic-having no obvious signs or symptoms of disease

Attachment Inhibitor-class of anti-HIV drugs that prevents the virus from attaching to a new, healthy host cell, thus preventing cell infection

Baseline-an initial measurement made before starting treatment or therapy for a disease or condition

Budding-the final step in the HIV life cycle, in which an individual virus pushes out (or "buds") from the host cell, steals part of the cell's outer envelop, and frees itself to attach to and infect another host cell

Candidiasis (also known as thrush)-infection cause by a species of the yeast like fungus Candida, usually C.albicans. Candidiasis can affect the skin; nails; and mucous membranes throughout the body, including the mouth (thrush), esophagus, female genitalia, intestines, and lungs. The infection appears as white patches when in the mouth or any other mucous membrane. Candidasis is considered an AIDS-defining condition in people with HIV.

CCR5-chemokine receptor 5 (CCR5) is a protein on the surface of some immune system cells. CCR5 receptor blocker class of anti-HIV drug that stops HIV from binding to the CCR5 coreceptor, a receptor that most strains of HIV need to enter cells. Without the ability to bind to the CCR5, HIV entry is halted.

CD4 cell-an infection fighting white blood cell that carries the CD4 receptor on its surface. CD4 cells coordinate the immune system response which signals other cells in the immune system to perform their special functions. The number of CD4 cells in a sample of blood is an indicator of the health of the immune system. HIV infect and kills the CD4 cells, which leads to a weakened immune system.

CD4 cell count- A measurement of the number of CD4 cells in a sample of blood. The CD4 count is one of the most useful indicators of the health of the immune system and the progression of HIV/AIDS. A CD4 cell count is used by health care providers to determine when to begin, interrupt, or halt anti-HIV therapy; when to give preventive treatment for opportunistic infections; and to measure response to treatment. A normal CD4 cell count is between 500 and 1,400 cells/mm³ of blood, but an individual's CD4 count can vary. In HIV-infected individuals, a CD4 count at or below 200 cells/mm³ is considered an AIDS-defining condition.

CD4 percentage-the percent of lymphocytes (white blood cells) that are CD4 cells.

CD4 Receptor-A specific molecule present on the surface of the CD4 cell. HIV recognizes and binds to a CD4 receptor and a coreceptor to gain entry into a host cell.

CD8 cell (also known as Cytotoxi T lymphocyte, Killer T Cell, Suppressor T cell- a type of white blood cell that is able to identify and kill cells infected with bacteria, viruses or other foreign invaders.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)-An agency of the U.S. Department of Heath and Human Services (HHS) that is charged with protecting the health and safety of citizens at home and abroad.

Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS)-An agency of the U.S. Departemnt of Health and Human Services (HHS) responsible for administering Medicare, Medicaid and other health related programs

CXCR4 (also known as Fusin)-Chemokine receptor 4 (CXCR4) is a protein on the surface of some immune system cells.

Deoxyribonucleic Acid (DNA)-chemical structure that contains the genetic instructions for production and protein synthesis for all cells and for many viruses.

..... to be continued

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