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HIV Testing And Counseling

HIV Testing: Glossary

Sunday, April 21, 2013 - 15:41

Contributing Author: Guy Slowik FRCS

Here are definitions of medical terms related to HIV and AIDS:

AIDS: Acquired immunodeficiency (or immune deficiency) syndrome, an advanced stage of a viral infection caused by the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV).

Antibodies: Proteins produced by the immune system to fight infectious agents, such as viruses.

Antigen: A substance that stimulates the production of antibodies.

AZT: An antiretroviral drug used to treat HIV infection; also called zidovudine.

CDC: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which is part of the U.S. federal government and focuses on preventing, researching, and treating communicable diseases, such as AIDS, tuberculosis and influenza.

CD4: A protein displayed on the surface of a certain human immune cells. HIV recognizes, attaches to, and infects cells bearing CD4 on their surface.

Condom: A sheath, usually made of latex, designed to cover the penis during sexual intercourse to help prevent pregnancy and reduce the risk of sexually transmitted diseases, including HIV.

Dental dams: Squares of latex, originally used for dental work, now commonly recommended for safe oral sex.

Enzyme immunoassay (EIA): A test used to detect HIV antibodies in a blood sample.

Enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA): A test used to detect HIV antibodies in a blood sample.

Injection drugs: Drugs including heroin or morphine that are injected through a syringe and needle into a vein.

Opportunistic infections: Infections (rarely seen in healthy people) that that occur when a person's immune system is weakened due to HIV, cancer, or drugs that suppress the body's immune response.

Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs): Diseases caused by infectious agents that are transmitted through sexual contact, such as HIV/AIDS, chlamydia infection, syphilis, and gonorrhea.

Spermicide: A substance that deactivates sperm cells and is used for birth control.

Transfusion: The injection of whole blood, plasma, or another solution into a patient's bloodstream.

Virus: A disease-causing microbe that can replicate only in the living cells of other organisms.

Western blot: A test used to diagnose HIV infection by detecting antibodies to HIV in a person's blood; this test is commonly used to confirm a less-sensitive HIV antibody test.


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