Glossary of Terms

Acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS)
A syndrome defined by the development of opportunistic infections resulting from immune system damage caused by advanced Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV).
Adherence
Adherence to drug therapy in order to avoid resistance. This can be difficult due to the number of tablets which need to be taken, dose frequency, and side effects.
Antiretroviral
A drug that inhibits the replication of retroviruses such as HIV.
CD4
Otherwise known as a T-4 cell. These cells orchestrate the immune system’s response to infection and is the cell mainly targeted by HIV.
Combination therapy
The use of two or more types of treatment in combination to achieve optimum results in suppressing HIV/AIDS and reducing the virus’s toxicity.
Communicable disease
An illness caused by a specific infectious agent or its toxic products, that arises through transmission of that agent or its products from an infected person to a susceptible host.
Drug resistance
Can occur when HIV goes through genetic changes when it replicates, which allows the virus to escape the control of a drug, or a whole class of drugs.
Early intervention
An approach to treatment characterised by action in the early stages of a condition, in order to prevent disease progression in someone with HIV.
Epidemic
A disease attacking many in a community simultaneously.
Epidemiology
The study of the health of particular populations and the application of this knowledge to control health problems.
Genotype
A definable gene or pattern of genes.
HAART
Highly Active Antiretroviral Therapy.
Haemophilia
Haemophilia is an hereditary blood disorder which prevents blood clotting.
More information: www.hemophiliabc.ca
Harm Reduction
The spectrum of strategies dealing with illicit drug use which range from peer- based and other education programs, needle and syringe programs, treatment options and detoxification, through to abstinence.
Health promotion
A broad, holistic and environmental understanding of health, with an emphasis on equity and social justice, as a means of improving health via education, social mobilisation and advocacy.
Hepatitis
Liver inflammation, often caused by one of a number of viruses (hepatitis A, B, C, D, E, G).
more information: www.hepcbc.ca
Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)
The human retrovirus that can cause AIDS.
Needle and syringe programs
Authorised programs that distribute, safely dispose of, or sell needles, syringes and other injecting equipment, as well as provide public health information to people who inject drugs.
Opportunistic infection
An infection which rarely causes illness in people with intact immune systems, but which can become life-threatening for someone with HIV whose immune system is compromised.
Pandemic
A disease affecting or attacking the population of an extensive region.
Peer education
Any education process devised and implemented by members of a population group which aims to alter the behaviours and attitudes of other members of the group, for example, gay men delivering gay education programs.
Prevalence
The total number of all people who have an attribute or disease at a particular time, divided by the total population at this time.
Prophylaxis
Treatment or drugs intended to prevent an infection or disease.
Protease inhibitor
An antiviral drug that inhibits protease – an enzyme HIV needs for replication.
Replicate
When the virus produces copies of itself.
Risk practice
Any behaviour, sexual or otherwise, that can transmit HIV.
Retrovirus
A retrovirus is an RNA virus that replicates in a host cell. First it uses its own reverse transcriptase enzyme to produce DNA from its RNA genome. This new DNA is then incorporated into the host’s genome by an integrase enzyme.
Reverse transcriptase inhibitor
A drug that inhibits reverse transcriptase, an enzyme that is important to the function of HIV.
Safe(r) sex, safe(r) sexual practice
Sexual activity in which there is no exchange of body fluids such as semen, pre-ejaculate, vaginal fluids or blood.
Seroconversion
The development of a detectable level of antibodies that occurs after a person has been exposed to, and become infected by, a virus such as HIV.
User groups
Community-based organisations representing the interests of people who inject drugs.
More information: www.solidvictoria.org
Viral load
The amount of HIV in blood or semen.
Vancouver Island Persons Living With HIV/AIDS Society (VPWAS) 101 - 1139 Yates Street, Coast Salish Territories, Victoria, BC. V8V 3N2
Phone: 250.382.7927 | Fax: 250.382.3232 | Toll Free: 1.877.382.7927 | support@vpwas.org | www.vpwas.org |