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Terminology: Helpful terms to understand HIV and AIDS

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Thousands of 13- to 24- year olds in Atlanta don’t know they’re infected.

AIDS

Acquired immunodeficiency syndrome is a condition that results in serious damage to the immune system. It is caused by the HIV infection.

Antibody

An antibody is a protein produced by the body’s immune system when it detects harmful antigens. Your body makes a protein to try to fight off something harmful.

Antigen

An antigen is a foreign substance that triggers a reaction from the immune system.

Antiviral

Treatment (medicine) used to prevent the growth or replication of viruses.

Antiretroviral therapy (ART)

Treatment against retroviruses, like HIV; drugs that keep HIV from progressing.

HIV

Human immunodeficiency virus weakens the immune system over time and can cause acquired immunodeficiency syndrome.

Immunodeficiency

The body’s inability to protect or defend itself against infections and disease.

Pathogen

Pathogens are disease-causing micro-organisms, including viruses, bacteria, fungi, protozoa and worms. They make you sick.

PEP

Post-exposure prophylaxis is anti-HIV medication taken as soon as possible (but within three days) after possible exposure to HIV to try to reduce the chance of becoming infected. The word “prophylaxis” means the prevention or control of the spread of an infection or disease.

PrEP

Pre-exposure prophylaxis is a medicine people who are high risk for HIV infection can take every day to prevent HIV infection.

Stigma

Disgrace connected to a particular situation or circumstance. Stigma can result in prejudice and discrimination aimed toward people with HIV or AIDS.

T-CELL

Also called CD4 cell, these cells trigger the body’s immune system to fight off infection. HIV attacks these cells.

Sources and for more information:

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AIDS Education Month

AIDSinfo

Healthline

U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs

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