AIDS: Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome is a collection of symptoms and infections resulting from the specific damage to the immune system caused by the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV). The late stage of the condition leaves individuals prone to opportunistic infections and tumors.

Antiretroviral: An agent or process effective against a retrovirus (HIV). For example, a drug to treat HIV.

CD4 cell (T cell): This count measures how many CD4 cells (T cells) are in your body reflecting the health of your immune system. The more CD4 cells, the stronger the immune system.

HAART: Highly Active Antiretroviral Therapy that consists of a “cocktail” of 3-4 medications to control HIV virus replication in the blood.

HIV: Human Immunodeficiency Virus is acknowledged to be the agent responsible for the acute infectious manifestations and immunological abnormalities linked to the acquired immunodeficiency syndrome.

Mutation: A change in one of the proteins that form the DNA sequence of the virus, causing resistance. This occurs more frequently when medication doses are missed.

Mycobacteria Avium Complex Disease (MAC): This is caused by a group of germs (related to TB but not contagious) that infect the lungs or intestines and spreads through the bloodstream causing widespread or “disseminated” disease. Adults with HIV usually don’t get MAC disease until the CD4 count id less than 100. People with MAC can have fever, night sweats, weight loss, fatigue and diarrhea.

Opportunistic Infection: An illness that occurs when the immune system is compromised or not working properly. Most common are PCP- Pneumocystis carinii Pneumonia, MAC - Mycobacterium Avium Complex, Tuberculosis, Toxoplasmosis, Candida (thrush), and CMV Retinitis.


Pap smear: The collection of cells from the cervix for examination under a microscope. It is used to detect changes that may be cancer or may lead to cancer and can show noncancerous conditions such as infection or inflammation.

Pneumocystis Pneumonia (PCP): Rare in healthy immunocompetent people, but common among HIV infected individuals. It is still one of the first indications of AIDS in untested individuals, but usually doesn’t occur until the CD4 count is below 200.

Resistance: The appearance of a mutant virus that is resistant to medication. The more mutations the virus develops the more chances it has to produce ones that will avoid destruction by the current medications.

Retrovirus: A virus that produces DNA from RNA (the opposite of the normal order). A group of viruses that includes HIV.

Tuberculosis (TB): Almost one third of the world’s population has a positive TB test (also called latent TB), but most do not get active disease. However, people with HIV are more likely to get active TB than people without HIV. TB commonly affects the lungs, but can affect any organ, even the skin. Today, people with active TB can be treated and cured. Even better, taking medicines can prevent active TB if your TB test is positive.

TB is spread through the air from one person to another when a person with active TB of the lungs or throat coughs, sneezes, or spits. People nearby may breathe in these bacteria and become infected. If there is any chance you might have TB, you will be asked to wear a maskwhen inside the hospital.

Viral Load: Measurement of the amount of HIV in the blood. Less than 75 is undetectable, which is the goad of treatment.