Managing your health: a guide for people living with HIV

Glossary

The glossary explains the meaning of some key HIV-related words and phrases that are used throughout Managing your health. These are the words that, if you are new to HIV, you may need to keep looking up to remember what they mean.

adherence
taking your anti-HIV drugs on time every day without missing any doses
AIDS
Acquired immunodeficiency syndrome
antibody
substance made by the immune system to help fight germs in your body
anti-HIV drug
drug used to treat HIV, also called antiretroviral drug
AIDS service organization (ASO)
community organization providing services to people living with and affected by HIV
asymptomatic
not having any symptoms of HIV infection
CD4+ cells
type of immune system cell that HIV infects and destroys. Your CD4+ cell count tells you how strong your immune system is
co-infection
infection that is acquired in addition to HIV, such as hepatitis C or tuberculosis
combination therapy
see HAART
complementary and alternative medicine
health and medical practices that fall outside of western medicine, such as herbal therapies and mind–body therapies
disclosure
telling someone that you are living with HIV
drug use equipment
things that are used to prepare, smoke or inject recreational drugs, such as needles, filters, spoons, pipes (also called works)
HAART (Highly Active Antiretroviral Therapy)
treatment for HIV involving a combination of anti-HIV drugs (also called combination therapy, ART, CART)
HIV
Human immunodeficiency virus
HIV-positive
infected with HIV
HIV-related infection
infection that can cause disease in someone whose immune system has been weakened by HIV (also called opportunistic infection)
immune system
the cells, organs and other parts of your body that work together to protect you from germs
non-nuke (non-nucleoside analogue reverse transcriptase inhibitor, NNRTI)
class of anti-HIV drugs
non-status person
person who does not have valid or full legal status in Canada
nuke (nucleoside analogue reverse transcriptase inhibitor, NRTI)
class of anti-HIV drugs
protease inhibitor
class of anti-HIV drugs
prophylaxis
treatment taken to prevent infection
recreational drugs
drugs used non-medically for personal enjoyment, to cope, or as a result of addiction, such as ecstasy, cocaine or heroin (also called street drugs)
resistance
the ability of HIV to continue replicating when anti-HIV drugs are taken. When HIV becomes resistant to an anti-HIV drug, that drug will no longer be effective against the virus
seroconversion
the point in time when your body develops antibodies to HIV, usually several weeks after infection
side effect
a secondary and usually unwanted effect of a drug, such as headache or nausea
substance use
taking recreational drugs
symptomatic
having symptoms of HIV infection
user
someone who uses recreational drugs (also called substance user)
viral load
measurement of the amount of HIV in the blood