The AIDSinfo Glossary is a comprehensive resource designed to help health professionals, researchers, and people living with HIV/AIDS and their families and friends to understand the complex web of HIV/AIDS terminology. The complete glossary is available online as a searchable database, a downloadable PDF, and an iPhone app.
For more terms and definitions, visit aidsinfo.nih.gov/Glossary/GlossaryDefaultCenterPage.aspx
- Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome (AIDS)
A disease of the immune system due to infection with the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). HIV destroys the CD4 cells of the immune system, leaving the body vulnerable to life-threatening infections and cancers. AIDS is the most advanced stage of HIV infection.
- Acute HIV Infection
Also known as: Primary HIV Infection
Early stage of HIV infection that extends approximately 2–4 weeks from initial infection until the body produces a detectable level of HIV antibodies. Because the virus is replicating rapidly, HIV is highly infectious during this stage of the disease.
- Antiretroviral (ARV)
A drug that interferes with the ability of a retrovirus, such as HIV, to make more copies of itself. (See “Retrovirus” below.)
- Antiretroviral Therapy (ART)
Treatment with drugs that inhibit the ability of retroviruses, such as HIV, to multiply in the body. The antiretroviral therapy recommended for HIV infection is referred to as highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART), which uses a combination of drugs to attack HIV at different points in its life cycle.
- Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV)
The virus that causes Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome (AIDS). HIV is in the retrovirus family, and two types have been identified: HIV-1 and HIV-2. HIV-1 is responsible for most HIV infections throughout the world, whereas HIV-2 is found primarily in West Africa.
A type of virus that stores its genetic information in a single-stranded RNA molecule, and constructs a double-stranded DNA version of its genes using a special enzyme called reverse transcriptase. The DNA copy is then integrated into the host cell’s own genetic material. HIV is an example of a retrovirus.