for Health Care Providers
Glossary of HIV/AIDS Terms
A simple set of effective practices designed to protect health workers and patients from infection with a range of pathogens, including blood-borne viruses. These practices are used when caring for all patients regardless of diagnosis.
Usually, the numbers of individuals who agree to a procedure such as the number of pregnant women who agree to take an HIV test or agree to participate in prenatal care.
Inoculation of a substance (i.e. vaccine) into the body for the purpose of producing active immunity against a disease. Initially associated with smallpox vaccination but now often used interchangeably with immunization.
A substance that contains antigenic components from an infectious microorganism. By stimulating an immune response--but not the disease--it protects against subsequent infection by that organism. There can be preventive vaccines (e.g. measles or mumps) as well as therapeutic (treatment) vaccines.
Infection of the vagina caused by the yeastlike fungus Candida (especially Candida albicans). Symptoms include, pain, itching, redness, and white patches in the vaginal wall. It can occur in all women, but it is especially common in women with HIV infection. The usual treatment is a cream applied locally to the vagina. Women with HIV infection may experience frequent reoccurrence of symptoms and may require systemic medications in order to treat these symptoms successfully.
Varicella Zoster Virus (VZV)
A virus in the herpes family that causes chicken pox during childhood and may reactivate later in life to cause shingles in immunosuppressed individuals.
The puncture of a vein (usually in the arm) with a hollow-bore needle for the purpose of obtaining a blood specimen.
Transmission of a pathogen such as HIV from mother to fetus or baby during pregnancy or birth.
Viral Burden/Viral Load
The amount of HIV in the circulating blood. Monitoring a person's viral burden is important because of the apparent correlation between the amount of virus in the blood and the severity of the disease. Sicker patients generally have more virus than those with less advanced disease. A sensitive, rapid test--called the viral load assay for HIV-1 infection--can be used to monitor the HIV viral burden. This procedure may help clinicians decide when to give anti-HIV therapy or to switch drugs. It may also help investigators determine more quickly whether experimental HIV therapies are effective.
Viral Load Test
In relation to HIV, a test that measures the quantity of HIV RNA in the blood. Results are expressed as the number of copies per milliliter of blood plasma. Research indicates that viral load is a better predictor of the risk of HIV disease progression than the CD4 count. The lower the viral load, the longer the time to AIDS diagnosis and the longer the survival time. Viral load testing for HIV infection is being used to determine when to initiate and/or change therapy.
See Nevirapine (NVP).
The presence of virus in the bloodstream.
Organism composed mainly of nucleic acid within a protein coat. When viruses enter a living plant, animal, or bacterial cell, they make use of the host cell's chemical energy, protein, and nucleic acid-synthesizing ability to multiply. Some viruses do not kill cells but transform them into a cancerous state. Some cause illness and then seem to disappear, while remaining dormant and later causing another, sometimes much more severe, form of disease. In humans, viruses cause measles, mumps, yellow fever, poliomyelitis, influenza, and the common cold, among others. Some viral infections can be treated with drugs.
Voluntary HIV Testing
An individual is usually counseled regarding HIV prevention and how HIV infection occurs. Participants have the opportunity to accept or refuse HIV testing.