HIV and AIDS Words and Phrases to Know
Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome (AIDS): A life-threatening illness caused by the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV). When left untreated, HIV damages your immune system and gets in the way of your body’s ability to fight off serious infections.
AIDS is the final stage of HIV infection. You can be diagnosed with AIDS if the number of CD4+ T-cells per cubic (mm3) in your blood falls below 200, or if you get one or more opportunistic infections.
Adherence: Following your treatment plan and taking your meds exactly as discussed with your healthcare team.
Antiretroviral (ARV): A medication used to prevent HIV from reproducing, which may help strengthen your immune system.
Antiretroviral therapy (ART): The use of a combination of HIV meds to treat HIV infection.
AIDS Service Organization (ASO): A community-based resource that provides services to people affected by HIV/AIDS.
CD4+ T-cell: A CD4+ T-cell is a type of white blood cell that helps fight infections. CD4+ T-cells are also called T-cells.
Co-infection: Two or more different infections that may be present in the body at the same time.
Drug resistance: This occurs when the HIV virus changes form so that previously effective drugs no longer work as well. Drug resistance can be a cause of HIV treatment failure.
HIV-1: “HIV” stands for Human Immunodeficiency Virus. It is the virus that causes AIDS. When left untreated, HIV can decrease your CD4+ T-cell count and weaken your immune system and your body’s ability to fight off serious infections. There are two main types of HIV: HIV-1 and HIV-2. HIV-1 is the most common type of HIV infection.
HIV-related infections: These infections take advantage of a weakened immune system and may cause life-threatening illnesses.
Hypersensitivity: A reaction of the immune system in response to an ARV drug. Sometimes these reactions can be life-threatening.
Immune system: The immune system is a group of tissues, cells, and organs that work together to defend the body against infection.
Side effects: These are reactions in your body to the specific meds you are taking. They may make you feel uncomfortable, so you should talk to your healthcare provider about any side effects you have.
Viral load: The amount of HIV in your blood, measured as the number of HIV particles or copies per milliliter (mL). An important goal of your treatment is to get your viral load to undetectable, which means fewer than 50 copies of HIV per mL.
Viral suppression: When HIV treatment reduces your viral load to undetectable. Viral suppression does not mean HIV is gone; HIV still remains in the body. If you stop treatment, your viral load will likely return to a detectable level.