AIDS Medical Terms
Once you have been diagnosed with the HIV virus or AIDS you will be bombarded with medical terms that may or may
not be understandable to you. It is important you take an active part in your medical care and treatment
and to do that you will need to know some of the major terms used for your disease. If
you have picked a doctor or clinic you are comfortable with, you should be able to ask any questions that come to
mind. There are a few basic and common terms you should know as you begin the long journey through HIV and
Cancer: This is a term for a disease in which abnormal cells divide totally out of
control. Cancer cells can spread to nearby tissues and spread through the bloodstream and lymphatic system to
all parts of the body. There are three main types of cancer. Carcinoma cancer begins in the skin or
tissues that line internal organs. Sarcoma begins in fat, bone, cartilage, muscles, blood vessels and other
supporting tissue. Leukemia starts in the blood and in the tissue that forms it such as the bone marrow.
Chemotherapy and high-dose chemotherapy: High dose chemotherapy is used for advanced
stages of AIDS. It is an intensive treatment that will destroy cancer cells, but will also destroy bone
marrow. It will cause extreme side effects and is normally followed by a stem cell or bone marrow
HAART: This is a treatment developed for those patients who have HIV virus. It is a
combination of several antiretroviral drugs. These drugs slow down the ability of the virus to multiply in
the body. The use of HAART will slow down the growth and development of AIDS.
Hodgkin’s Lymphoma: This is a cancer of the immune system and includes enlargement of the
lymph nodes, spleen and other tissues involved in the immune system. Symptoms can include fatigue, weight
loss, fever and night sweats.
Infection: An infection occurs when germs multiply in the body. They can occur
anywhere and spread through the body. These germs can be viral, bacterial, yeast or fungi in character.
They cause fever and other problems that depend on where the infection is occurring in the body. Healthy
people can fight off these infections, but if the immune system is weakened, the infections are difficult to
Did You Know?
Since 1981 when the HIV and Aids was first recognized as something new in the
medical world, researchers and scientists have been working to learn as much about the new disease
So far they have determined the virus is spread by contact with another
contaminated person’s body fluids. This could be through contact with blood, semen, and vaginal
fluids. Once the body has the HIV virus it begins to produce more HIV particles and these begin
attacking the T-cells. The T-cells or CD4 cells burst and that allows the virus to enter the
bloodstream and invade other cells. You should already know the difference between HIV and
HIV is a subgroup of retroviruses that cause AIDS. The virus kills cells in the
body’s immune system and progressively destroys the body’s ability to fight infections. This
inability to fight off infections also affects some cancers too. HIV gradually gets worse until the
body is no longer able to fight off the infections and other bacteria that would normally not make
people sick. These opportunistic infections will attack the body and could be potentially life
AIDS is the acronym for Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome. It was first recognized
in New York City in 1981. The virus was isolated and identified in 1983, but it wasn’t until 1985
that a diagnostic test was developed to test for the disease.
Lymphoma: This is a cancer that begins in the immune system. There are two forms
Hodgkin’s and nonHodgkin’s lymphoma. These two kinds of lymphomas can occur both in children and adults. The
treatment is based on the stage the cancer is in and if it is Hodgkin or nonHodgkin’s lymphoma.
NonHodgkin’s Lymphoma: Also called NHL, this is a group of cancers that occur in the immune
system. Symptoms include enlarged or swollen lymph nodes, fever, and unexplained weight loss.
NonHodgkin’s lymphoma can be a fast-growing or slow-growing cancer.
Radiation Therapy: High-energy radiation rays are used to kill cancer cells
and shrink tumors.
Unprotected sex is the number one reason why people get HIV and Aids.
Side Effect: A side effect is a medical problem that attacks the body
because of the drugs used to treat AIDS. It causes nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, hair loss, and sores in the
White Blood Cell: A white blood cell does not contain hemoglobin. It
does contain infection-fighting lymphocytes that are made by bone marrow to fight infections.