What do all the words mean?

The list below explains most of the words and expressions you are most likely to come across when reading about HIV and Aids.

An infectious disease A disease that can spread through the general population and is therefore notifiable under the guidelines of the prevention of communicable diseases laws in Norway.

Alternative treatments Treatment methods not generally recognised by the medical establishment. Alternative treatments include the use of herbs, homoeopathy, acupuncture etc.

Antigen Something the immune system recognises as foreign that should be made harmless; for example: bacteria.

Antibodies Proteins formed by the immune system in response to a foreign substance (antigen), in order to make it harmless.

Asymptomatic Without symptoms.

Bacteria Single cell organisms. Some cause illness.

Spinal fluid Found in the large vertebrae. Produces white and red blood cells

Side Effects Unintended (often negative) effects from a medicationgiven as a recommended dose

'Cocktail' A selected combination of medicines used totreat HIV infection.

CD Cluster determiner

CD4 A molecule on the surface of single cells that HIV can lock onto in order to enter the cell.

CD4Cells A cell with CD4 molecules on the surface.

CD4 number The number of CD4 cells present in the bloodstream. Highlights the immune system's status. Healthy people typically have CD4 number between 500/µl. and 1,500/µl.

Cytomegalovirus A virus that can cause serious illness/blindness in people with advanced HIV infection

DNA Deoxiribonucleic acid. Genetic material which controls the development in all living organisms

Enzyme A protein that promotes the chemical reaction. Fusion inhibitors A treatment that restrains/blocks HIV fromlocking onto cells

HAART Highly Active Antiretroviral Therapy. Term for a specific treatment of HIV infection.

Shingles Herpes zoster. Painful skin disease with sores. Caused by reactivated chicken pox virus. Occurs with lowered immunity.

Haemoglobin (Hgb) Red coloured iron-based substance found in red blood cells. Absorbs and transports oxygen. Measured inblood tests instead of ‘blood percentage'.

Hepatitis Liver infection/ jaundice Herpes simplex A virus causing mouth ulcers (cold sores)or sores on the genitalia.

White blood cells A group of cells that are a central part ofthe immune system.

Kaposis sarcoma Lesions on the skin, mucous membrane andinternal organs caused by cancer of the arteries.

Cholesterol A fatty substance produced by the liver. Important in the production of hormones and the development of cell walls.

Lymphocytes Types of white blood cells. Two sub-groups: B and T lymphocytes.

Lymphoma Cancer of the lymph glands

Molecule Chemical substance made up of one, two or more atoms.

Mutation Rapid changes to the genetic materials of an organism

Nucleoside /nucleoside analogue Chemical substance resembling a nucleoside /nucleoside.

Nucleosides The 'building blocks' of RNA and DNA.

Opportunistic infection Infections that cause illness in people withlowered immunity. Mostly caused by organisms that do not worry people with healthy immune systems.

PCP - Pneumocystis carinii pneumonia A lung infection (pneumonia) caused by a fungal infection (Pneumocystis carinii) in people with severely lowered immunity.

PEP Post Exposure Prophylaxis. Preventative (prophylactic) treatment given to stop infection after a person has been at risk of infection (ie: post exposure).

PrEP Pre Exposure Prophylaxis. Preventive (prophylactic) treatment that can be given before exposure to avoid being infected.

Pneumococci Bacteria that can cause lung infection.

Primary HIV infection Influenza-like illness which emerges two to four weeks after infection in more than half of those infected with HIV.

Prophylactic Preventative actions/treatment.

Protozoa Single celled organisms. Numerous different types. Many can cause illness in humans.

Resistant Meaning that a medication no longer has any affect on a microbe.

Retroviruses A large group of viruses that cause a variety of illnesses in humans. HIV belongs to the retrovirus group.

Reverse transcriptase An enzyme that transforms genetic material from RNA to DNA.

Reversing When the RNA building blocks of HIV transform into DNA with help of an enzyme; reverse transcriptase.

RNA Ribonucleic acid. Builds proteins in cellsfollowing the DNA pattern.

Sexually Transmitted Infections (STI) Infectious diseases normally transmitted viasexual intercourse or other sexual contact.

Serum Clear plasma without blood cells, but including antibodies and other chemical substances.

Infectious contacts All those who have been at risk of contractingan infectious disease.

Strains - Subtypes HIV exists in various strains or subtypes. These have different distributions. One subtype is common in Europe and the USA. Another is common in Africa. Different strains/subtypes of HIV are found in most countries.

Symptomatic To have symptoms of disease. Also used to describe treatment.

Symptomatic treatment To treat the symptoms; not the cause of the disease.

Syndrome A group of symptoms typically seenin a particular illness/condition.

T-cell A lymphocyte which is part of a sub-groupof cells belonging to the white blood cell family.

T4 cell - helper cell A group within the lymphocytes which warns the immune system about specific infections. These cells are attacked and destroyed by HIV.

Toxoplasmosis An illness caused from parasitic infection.

Toxoplasma gondii Can cause heart infection in those with very low immunity.

Trichomonas vaginalis A protoza causing vaginitis. Transmitted sexually. Rare among women in Norway but very common worldwide.

Triglycerides The 'building blocks' of cholesterol.

Trombocytopenia Low counts of thrombocytes. Can occur with HIV infection.

Thrombocytes = Blood platelets - A type of blood cell important for the clotting(coagulating) of blood.

Tuberculosis Illness caused by the tuberculosis bacteria (Mycobacterium tuberculosis).

Virus A micro-organism that can multiplyin living cells

Virus count The amount of virus in the blood.

Western Blot Tests used in identifying specific antibodies,including the presence of HIV.