Terms You Should Know About HIV/AIDS



Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome, the extremely advanced stage of HIV. AIDS is not actually different from HIV, just evolved to the point where the human immune system is vulnerable to over 25 different diseases called Opportunistic Infections (OI's).

AIDS-Related Cancer

Several cancers more common or more aggressive in people with HIV, although people without HIV can also have them. These cancers include certain types of immune system cancers (lymphomas), Kaposi’s sarcoma, cancers that affect the anus and the cervix, and others.

Adverse Drug Reaction (ADR)

Any drug effect that is unwanted, unpleasant, or potentially harmful. These could be mild, disappearing when the drug is stopped or subsiding as the body adjusts to the drug, or be more serious, such as skin rashes, anemia, or organ damage.

Antiretroviral Drugs

Drugs that combat retroviruses (see definition below).

Combination Therapy

The use of multiple drugs to combat HIV. Due to its rapid and complex replication process, one drug alone is not enough to truly combat the disease. The use of more than three drugs simultaneously is known as HAART, Highly Active Antiretroviral Therapy.


Human Immunodeficiency Virus, a virus that attacks the human immune system, killing the cells that combat disease and infection.

Immune System

The cell network in the human body that combats foreign substances, pathogens, disease, infection, etc. Without the a functional immune system, people can be killed by the common cold.


The ability to be completely resistant to a disease or infection.

Opportunistic Infections (OIs)

Illnesses caused by various organisms that occur in people with weakened immune systems, including people with HIV/AIDS, such as pneumonia, parasitic, viral, and fungal infections, and some types of cancers.


A virus that has the ability to perform "reverse transcription,” the conversion of DNA into RNA, as opposed to the natural process of RNA to DNA. It is also the way that certain cancers function.

White Blood Cells

Colorless cells in the blood that help combat infection. Some act as scavengers by engulfing foreign particles (e.g. bacteria) and destroying them. Others produce antibodies or destroy dead cells.

Source AIDS Info