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Glossary of HIV/AIDS Terms

for Health Care Providers

Glossary of HIV/AIDS Terms

Failure to thrive (FTT)

Weight loss or gradual but steady deterioration in weight gain as compared with the expected growth, as indicated in a child's growth chart.

False negative

A test result that is not correct. This may be a result of performing the test incorrectly or using a test that is not accurate. A false-negative test result in HIV would be a result that is negative in a person who is actually infected.

False positive

A test result that is not correct. This may be a result of performing the test incorrectly or using a test that is not accurate. A false-positive test result in HIV would be a result that is positive in a person who is not infected. For this reason, a second confirmatory test is recommended when a person tests HIV positive.

Fat redistribution

Changes in body fat distribution, sometimes referred to as "lipodystrophy syndrome" or "fat redistribution syndrome," have been observed in patients taking antiretroviral medications (but are not necessarily caused by antiretrovirals). Changes may include abdominal fat accumulation, fat accumulation over the back of the neck ("buffalo hump"), wasting of legs and arms with prominence of the veins, facial thinning, and breast enlargement.

See Lipodystrophy.

Food and Drug Administration (FDA)

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services agency responsible for ensuring the safety and effectiveness of all drugs, biologics, vaccines, and medical devices, including those used in the diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of HIV infection, AIDS, and AIDS-related opportunistic infections.


One of a group of primitive, nonvascular organisms including mushrooms, yeasts, rusts, and molds.

Fusion Inhibitor

A class of antiretroviral agents that binds to the HIV envelope protein and blocks the structural changes necessary for the virus to fuse with the host CD4 cell. Enfuvirtide (T-20) is a drug in this class.


One of the proteins in blood serum that contains antibodies obtained from pooled human plasma.

See Globulins; Immunoglobulin G (IgG).

Gastrointestinal (GI)

Relating to the stomach and intestines.


Having sexual relations with an individual of the same sex. Usually refers to male-male relations. The term lesbian is most often used for female-female sexual relationships.

Genital ulcer disease

Ulcerative lesions on the genitals usually caused by a sexually transmitted disease such as herpes, syphilis, or chancroid. The presence of genital ulcers may increase the risk of transmitting HIV.

Genital warts

See Condyloma.


The area of the sexual organs. In the male, the penis and scrotum. In the female, the vulva and vagina.

Genitourinary tract

The organs concerned with the production and excretion of urine and those concerned with reproduction. Also called genitourinary system, urogenital system, or urogenital tract.


The genetic makeup of an individual organism such as HIV. In reference to HIV, genotypic resistance testing determines whether the HIV genetic structure contains certain mutations that make it resistant to a drug. Contrast with Phenotype.




A common protozoal infection of the small intestine, spread via contaminated food and water and direct person-to-person contact.


Simple proteins found in the blood serum containing various substances that function in the immune system.

See Immunoglobulin (Ig).


An infection caused by Neisseria gonorrhoeae. Although gonorrhea is considered primarily a sexually transmitted disease, it also can be transmitted to newborns during the birth process.


A type of white blood cell filled with granules of compounds that digest infectious agents. Granulocytes are part of the innate immune system and have broad-based activity.


A lack or low level of granulocytes in the blood. Often used interchangeably with neutropenia.