AIDS stands for Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome. If someone has had HIV for a long time and is not taking medication, they can get what is known as an AIDS defining illness. This happens because the immune system gets really weak. A syndrome means a group of different illnesses, . Sso, AIDS means a group of illnesses you get when you have HIV and your immune system isn’t working properly.

AIDS is not the same as HIV. A person with HIV can avoid developing AIDS defining illnesses by taking their medication. If you do dvelop AIDS, it does not mean you will always have it. If medicine is taken in time, it can stop AIDS from developing.


Adherence means you are taking all of your medication every day, at the right time(s) in the way your doctors and nurses have told you to.


Blood pressure is the measurement of how much force your heart uses to pump blood around your body. To move the blood, your heart uses blood vessels (they are small tubes) which are all around your body. Your blood pressure is one of the things your doctor or nurse sometimes needs to check to see how you are doing.


Blood stream is the flow of blood travelling around your body.


Blood transfusion is when you’re given blood from someone else, (a donor) to replace blood you may have lost. This often happens during operations, for example if a person has had an accident and loses blood. There are different blood groups (types of blood). Before having a transfusion, your blood type will be tested so that you are only given blood that’s safe for your particular blood group.


CD4 cells are part of the immune system. Your immune system keeps you well. CD4 cells are in the blood and they and fight off germs and help prevent illness from developing in your body. The number of CD4 cells are measured by taking your blood, to see how HIV is affecting you and your immune system. It is also measured to see if your medication is working. The aim is to have a high CD4 number, because it is a sign that you have high immunity and your cells can fight off illnesses.


Cesarean section is a medical procedure that is another way to deliver a baby (instead of giving birth naturally through the vagina). A cut is made at the bottom of the stomach and the baby is taken out through this..


Chronic conditions are health conditions that (in most cases) cannot be cured, and a person has the condition for life. They can usually be controlled and treated with medicines to limit the unwanted effects and keep the person healthy.


CNS stands for Clinical Nurse Specialist. This is a nurse who is skilled and experienced in a specific area of nursing, such as certain conditions or treatment types.


Condoms are a type of contraception that stops a person from getting pregnant. It is the only contraception that also stops each partner from getting or passing on Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs). There are two different types of condoms: internal and external. External condoms are very thin pieces of rubber which cover the penis during sex; internal condoms are put into the vagina.


Confidential means that information about your health cannot be told to anybody else unless you say you are okay with it. UK laws are in place to protect you and keep your information private. Any professional who has access to your confidential information is not allowed to share this with anyone else and there are laws in place to protect you. Occasionally confidential information has to be shared in order to keep someone safe or in a court case, but this must be approved first.


(also known as birth control) is used to prevent pregnancy. The most common types of contraception include condoms, the contraceptive pill, caps (also known as the diaphragm), conraceptive patch, implant or injection and IUD (also known as a coil) For more information visit the NHS website pages here.


GP stands for ‘general practitioner’. It is a type of doctor who sees all the people in a local area. A GP does not specialise in one area of medicine but treats a whole variety of types of medical problems. If you need specialist care, your GP will suggest another type of doctor (e.g. HIV doctor).


HIV stands for Human Immunodeficiency Virus. It is a virus which affects the immune system (the body’s way of fighting off germs, illnesses and infections). For more information about HIV visit these pages.


The immune system is a group of bodily functions made up of different parts of your body (including organs, tissues and cells) that defend your body from diseases, fight off infections and keep you well.


IVF stands for In vitro fertilization. IVF is a way of helping people with fertility problems (people who are finding it difficult to naturally make a baby ). To make a baby, an egg and sperm need to combine (fertilise) in the womb. This is sometimes difficult to do naturally. The IVF process involves a doctor taking eggs from the womb of the person who wants to be pregnant, and fertilising the eggs with some sperm in a medical laboratory. Once the egg is fertilised it is returned to the womb to grow and develop into a baby in the womans body.


A Laboratory or lab is a place especially for scientific tests and investigations to be carried out. It is also a place where new medicines and other chemicals are developed.


Paediatrics is a type of medical care that is for children. The adults that work in paediatric care (called paediatricians) have specialist knowledge of how diseases, viruses, illnesses and medicines work specifically in babies, children and young people.


PEP stands for Post-Exposure Prophylaxis. It reduces the chance of HIV being passed on from a HIV positive person to a HIV negative person. It is taken by someone who does not have HIV after they have sex with someone who does (or may) have HIV. Often it is taken because the person didn’t realise they were having sex with someone who has HIV until after they have had sex. PEP must be taken within 72 hours of having sex and it is less effective than PrEP.

You may hear this referred to as PEPSE (Post exposure prophylaxis after sexual exposure). PEP can also be used during needle-stick injuries (i.e. if a doctor is pricked by a needle and the needle contains the blood of someone with HIV).


PREP stands for Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis. It significantly reduces the chance of HIV being passed on (it is more effective than PEP). It is taken by someone who does not have HIV, as a preparation if they think they will be at risk of contracting HIV by having sex with someone who does (or may) have HIV.


Semen is the fluid that comes out of a penis during orgasm (when a person comes/cums) during sexual activity. Semen contains sperm cells that can fertilise an egg. If an egg is fertilised if can lead to pregnancy if no form of contraception is used.


Sexual health is about looking after yourself to stay healthy and safe during your sexual activities. This includes using suitable contraception for having sex; having the sex that you want; protecting yourself from sexually transmitted infections; understanding pregnancy, and all risks relating to sexual activity, and being able to talk about sex and relationships with your sexual partner.


STIs stands for Sexually Transmitted Infections. These are infections which are passed from person to person through sexual activity. They are also called STDs (Sexually Transmitted Diseases).


Stigma is when a person is seen or treated in a negative way, because of something they experience (like a health condition) or because of something that makes up their identity (like their gender, age, sexuality, ethnicity etc.) Stigma is often based on innacurate information and stereotypes.


Transitioning is when you change from one position, stage or situation to another one. In health care, this word is often used when a child moves from child medical services (paediatrics) to adult medical services and care. Usually this will happen in your teenage years. In most situations this means that the hospital you attend will change.


Undetectable means that something can’t be measured, found, or easily seen. An undetectable viral load (also known as virally suppressed or the HIV being ‘asleep’) is where taking medicine well over a period of time, has reduced your HIV to very small quantities that can’t be detected by standard blood tests.

The aim of HIV medicine is to get your viral load undetectable, although this is not always possible and you can still remain well with a detectable viral load.

People living with HIV who have an undetectable viral load cannot pass on HIV through sex.

Being undetectable does not mean your HIV is cured. There is still HIV in your body but it has been reduced to very small amounts. This also means that if you stop taking treatment, your viral load will go up again which will affect your health and make HIV transmittable again.


Viruses are types of organism that cause diseases. In order to live and reproduce, viruses need to attached themselves to people. When a virus is inside a person, it can make them feel ill. Viruses are so small that specialist laboratory equipment is needed to see them.


U=U stands for undetectable equals untransmittable. When a person with HIV has an undetectable viral load (also known as virally ‘suppressed’ or that the virus is ‘asleep’), then this person cannot pass on HIV during sex.