Sex Dictionary

# A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z



69 – When both partners are giving and receiving oral sex at the same time.


Abdomen – The part of the body that contains the stomach, intestines, liver, reproductive organs, and other organs.

Abstinence – Refraining from sexual intercourse.

Acute – Refers to intense, short-term symptoms or illnesses that either resolve or evolve into long-lasting, chronic disease manifestations.

Acquired Immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) – AIDS is the final stage of the HIV infection. Because the body’s immune system is basically shut down, opportunistic infections (diseases the body could normally fight off such as a common cold) are now very harmful.

Acyclovir (Zovirax) – An antiviral drug used in the treatment of herpes simplex virus 1 (fever blisters, cold sores), herpes simplex 2 (genital herpes) and herpes zoster (shingles). Acyclovir comes in the forms of pills, ointment or injection. The drug functions as a nucleoside analog, but must be converted to an active (phosphated) form by the thymidine kinase enzyme produced only by cells infected by certain herpes viruses, including varicella zoster virus (shingles) and herpes simplex-1 and -2. Acyclovir causes few sides effects — occastionally nausea, diarrhea or headaches. It is now available in a generic form.

AIDS (Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome) – The late stage of the illness triggered by infection with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). According to the official definition published by the CDC, a person recieved an AIDS diagnosis when he or she has a CD4 (helper T-cell) count of less than 200 and/or certain opportunistic infections common with advances immune deficiency.

AIDS Clinical Trails Group (ACTG) – A network of medical centers around the country in which federally-funded clinical trails are conducted to test the safety and effectiveness of experimental treatments for AIDS and HIV infection. ACTG studies are are sponsored by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID).

AIDS Dementia Complex – A frequent cerebral condition in people with AIDS that result in the loss of cognitive capacity  affecting the ability to function in a social or occupational setting. Its cause has not been determined exactly, but may result from HIV infection of cells in the brain or an inflammatory reaction to such infection.

 Alternative Medicine – A catch-all phrase for a long list of treatments or medicinal systems including traditional systems such as Chinese medicine, homeopathy, various herbals and other miscellaneous treatments that have not been accepted by the mainstream, or Western, medical establishment. Alternative medicine is also referred to as complementary medicine (see also). The designation “alternative medicine” is not equivalent to “holistic medicine,” which is a more narrow term (see holistic medication).

Anal Sex -Anal sex is when a man puts his penis in another person’s anus or butt. Just like unprotected vaginal sex, unprotected anal sex can result in the spread of STIs and HIV. To practice safer anal sex, use a condom and water based lubricant such as KY or astroglide.

Analgesic – Refers to a compound that reduces pain, Tylenol, aspirin and the opiates are examples of analgesic drugs.

Anesthesia – Loss of feeling or awareness. A local anesthetic causes loss of feeling in a part of the cody. Ageneral anesthetic puts the person to sleep.

Antibiotic – A substance, especially one similar to thsoe produced by certain fungi for destroying bacteria, that kills or inhibits the growth of microorganisms. An antibiotic is used to combat diesease and infection.

Antibody – A disease-fighting protein in the blood created by the immune system, also known as immunoglobulin. Antibodies coat, mark for immune destruction or render harmless foreign particles like bacteria, viruses or harmful toxins. Antibodies also tag infected cells, making them vulnerable to attack by the immune system.  Each antibody attaches itself to a single specific chemical sequence on an antigen. Elements of the body’s immune response, these substances circulate in the blood and in other bodily fluids to fight disease-causing microbes.

Antigen – A foreign substance, usually protein, such as a fragment of a virus or bacteria, that stimulates an immune response with antibodies or other defenses. An antigen contains several sub-units called epitopes (see definition) that are targets of specific antibodies and cytotoxic T-lymphocytes.

Antiretroviral – A substance that stops that stops or suppresses the activity of a retrovirus such as HIV. AZT, ddC, ddl, and d4T are examples of antiretroviral drugs.

Asymptomatic – Without signs or symptoms of disease of illness.

Asymptomatic transmission of herpes –  The spread of virus from one person to another during a period of asymptomic shedding, i.e., the body sheds virus in the absence of symptoms.

Atrophy – A wasting or shirking of cells, tissue, and organs or muscle.

Autoinoculation – The spread of a microorganism such as a virus from one part of the body to another.

Autoinoculation of herpes simplex virus (HSV) –  The spread of HSV from one part of the body to another. This can result when a person with active herpes desposits a significant amount of virus onto some other vulnerabel party of the body – most often a mucus membrane.

AZT (Retrovir, Zidovudine) – A nucleoside analog used to slow replication of HIV. AZT is approved for the inital treatment of HIV infection. AZT is increasingly adminsted in combination with other antiviral drugs, especially 3TC (a combination that is under consideration by the FDA as another initial treatment regimen for HIV) as well as ddC (an FDA-approved combination for persons with professive disease and CD4 cell counts below 300). Possible side effect include bone marrow suppression leading to anemia, leukopenia or neutropenia nausea, muscle weakness and headaches.


Bacterial STDs – Such as syphilis, gonorrhea, and chlamydia respond effectively to antibiotic treatment, yet they remain epidemic in the population.

Bacterial Vaginosis (BV) – Bacterial vaginosis is the condition where the normal balance of bacteria in a woman’s vagina is disrupted and replaced by an overgrowth of certain bacteria.  It is sometimes accompanied by a white creamy discharge, fish- like odor, pain, itching, or burning. Some women may experience itching or pain while peeing. This condition is diagnosed by a clinical visit or routine pap smear.

Balanitis – Inflammation of the glans penis or clitoris.

Balanoposthitis – Inflammation of the glans penis and overlying prepuce.

B-Cell (B-Lymphocyte) – A type of lymphocyte (see definition) that is a precursor to plasma cells. During infections, individual B-cell clones multiple and are transformed into plasma cells, which produce large amounts of antibodies against a particular antigen (see definition) on a foreign microbe. This transformation occurs through interaction with appropriate CD4 T-cells.

bDNA (branched DNA) – A test developed by the Chiron Corp. for measuring the amount of HIV (as well as other viruses) in the blood plasma. The test uses a signal amplification technique, which creates a luminescent signal whose brightness depends on the viral RNA present. Test results are calibrated in numbers of virus particle equivalent per milliliter of plasma. bDNA is similar in results but not in technique to the PCR test (see definition).

Benign – Not cancerous; does not invade nearby tissue or spread to other parts of the body.

Bioavailability – The extent to which an oral medication is absorbed in the digestive tract and reaches the bloodstream.

Biological therapy – Treatment to stimulate or restore the ability of the immune system to fight infection and disease. Also called immunotherapy.

Biopsy – The removal of a sample of tissue that is then examined under a microscope to check for cancer cells.

Bladder – The hollow organ that store urine.

Blue balls – Blue balls is the result of a male being sexually stimulated (or hard) and not reaching an orgasm. The term “blue balls” was first used because it is said that the scrotum begins to resemble a bluish tint.

Burkitt’s Lymphoma – A cancerous tumor, frquently involving jaw bones, ovaries, and abnormal lymph nodes. These disease is common in Africa and has been assoicated with Epstein-Barr virus.

BV – See Bacterial Vaginosis.


Cancer – A term for diseases in which abnormal cells divide without control. Cancer cells can invade nearby tissues and can spread through the bloodstream and lymphatic system to other parts of the body.

Candida – A group of yeast-like fungi, in particular Candida albicans, that infect the mouth as well as other mucus membranes in the esophagus, intestines, vagina, throat, and lungs. Oral or recurrent candida infection is an early sign of immune system deterioration.

Candidiasis – An infection due to candida yeast. The symptoms of oral candidiasis (thrush) and vaginal candidaisis (formerly called monilia) include pain, itching, redness and white patches in their respective sites. Some common treatments are clotrimazole, nystatin and miconazole.

Carcinoma – Cancer that begins in the lining or covering of an organ.

Carcinoma in situ – Cancer that involves only the cells in which it began and that has not spread to other tissues.

Catheter – A flexible tube that is placed in a body cavity to inset or withdraw fluids.

Cauterization – The use of heat to destroy abnormal cells. Also called diathermy or electrodiathermy.

CD4 –  The protein structure on the surface of a human cell that allows HIV to attach, enter, and thus infect a cell. CD4 receptors are present on CD4 cells (helper T-cells), macrophages and dendritic cells, among others. Normally, CD4 acts as an accessory molecule, forming part of larger structures (such as the T-cell receptor) through which T-cells and other cells signal each other.

CD4 Cell – A type of T-cell involved in protecting against viral, fungal, and protozoal infections. The CD4 cell modulates the immune response to an infection through a complex series of infections with antigen presenting cells (macrophages, dendritic cells an B cells) and other types of lymphocytes (B cells and CD8 cells). Other names for CD4 cells are T-helper and helper T-cells.

CD4 Cell Count –  The most commonly used surrogate marker for assessing the state of the immune system. As CD4 cell count declines, the risk of developing opportunistic infections increases. The normal range for CD4 cell counts is 500 to 1500 per cubic millimeter of blood. CD4 count should be rechecked at least every sex to twelve months if CD4s are greater than 500/mm3. If the count is lower, testing every three months is advised.

Cell Culture – A diagnostic test for many kinds of viruses. IN a cell culture for HSV, a swab of the patient’s herpes lesion is places in a dis containing normal skin cell to see if HSV will grow.

Cellular immune response – The portion of the body’s immune response that involved T-lymphocytes or other cells deigned to fight an “antigen” or invading microbe.

Center for Disease Control and Prevention – The federal public health agency serving as the center for preventing, tracking, controlling and investigating the epidemiology of AIDS and other diseases.

Cervical Dysplasia – An abnormal tissue growth on the cervix which may progress to cancer if not treated in time. Cervical dysplasia is detected through a Pap Smear.

Cervical Intraepithelial Neoplasia – A general term for the growth of abnormal cells on the surface of the cervix. Numbers from 1 to 3 may be used to describe how much of the cervix contains abnormal cells. Also called CIN.

Cervix – The lower, cylindrical end of the uterus that forms a narrow canal connecting the upper (uterus) and lower (vagina) parts of a women’s reproductive tract.

Chancroid – A bacterial infection that causes open sores in the genital area (vulva, penis and/or rectum). Sores normally appear within 4 to 10 days. Spread through sexual contact with an open sore, however this STI is very rare in the United States, seen more often in developing countries.

Chlamydia – Most people infected have very few symptoms and they differ from men to women. Although women usually have no symptoms they might experience burning or itching that may or may not be accompanied by a vaginal discharge. If Chlamydia goes untreated in women it could lead to PID or other reproductive problems. For men, they may experience a liquid discharge and pain while peeing. Transmitted through semen, vaginal fluids, anal fluids and blood.

Chronic – Refers to symptoms and diseases that last for an extended eriod of time without noticeable change.

CIN – See Cervical Intraepithelial Neoplasia.

Clinical Trial – A study finished to test an experimental medicine in human beings to see if it is safe ane effective.

CMV – See Cytomegalovirus.

Cold sores – Otherwise known as “fever blisters” and herpes type-1 infection.

Colposcopy – A procedure in which the bagina and teh surface of the uterine cervix is examined through a lighted microscope (colposcope) for signs of cervial dysplasia or cancer. Colposcopy is a more accurate altervative to Pap smears, but requres considerably more skill to perform.

Complementary Medicine – Nonmainstream health care provided in addition or instead of standard medical practice. Also see Alternative Medicine.

Condom – Male: A cover for the penis, wor during sex to prevent STDs and pregnancy. Latex condoms are recommended for protection against disease. Female: The is now a “female condom” that lines the vagina, which is worn by the women during sex for similar protection.

Condoms are highly effective at preventing STDs and pregnancy if used consistently and correctly. The right way to use a condom.

Condyloma Acuminatum – A projecting warty growth on the external genitals or the anus caused by infection with cetain types of the human papillomavirus (HPV). It is usually a benign or non-cancerous growth. Condyloma acuminatum is also referred to as genital warts or verruca acuminata.

Conization – Surgery to remove a cone-shaped piece of tissue from the cervix and cervical canal. Conization may be used to diagnose or treat a cervical condition. Also called cone biopsy.

Control Arm – The group of participants in the clinical trail who recieve standard treatment or a placebo, against which those receiving the experimental treatment are compared.

Controlled Arm – A clinical study in which one group of participants recieves an experimental drug while another group recieved either aplacebo or an approved standard therapy. When participants do not know which group they are in, the trail is blinded. Also see Double-Blinded.

Costs – It is estimated that in 1994, the costs related to a seleced grou of STDs, other than HIV/AIDS, were approximately $10 billion. Those realted to HIV/AIDS during that year are estimated at $6.7 billion. Much of the cost of STDsresult from failure to detect and effectively manage the infections in their early stages.

Crysourgery – Treatment performed with an instrument that freezes and destroys abnormal tissues.

Cyst – A sac or capsule filled with fluid.

Cystoscopy – A procedure in which the doctor inserts a lighted instrument into the urethra (the tube leading from teh bladder to the outside of the body) to look at the bladder.

Cytomegalovirus (CMV) – A herpes infection that causes serious illness in people with AIDS. CMV can develop in any part of the body but most often in the retina of the eye, the nervous system, the colon or the esophagus.


Dental Dam – A sheet of latex that can be used to cover the vagina or anus during oral sex in order to prevent body fluids from passing from one person to another. It is called a dental dam because it was designed to be used dental procedures. A substitute can be made by cutting off the tiop and slitting the side of a latex condom.

Dermatitis – Inflammation of the skin.

Diathermy – The use of heat to destroy abnormal cells. Also called cauterization or electrodiathermy.

Dilation and curettage – A minor operation in which the cervix is dilated (expanded) so that the cervical canal and tissue from the uterine lining can be scraped with a spoon-shaped instrument called a curette. Also called D&C.

Dilator – A device used to stretch or enlarge an opening.

Disseminated infection – A herpes infection that spreads over a wider than usual area of the body, frequently afflicting internal organs.

DNA (Deoxyribonucleic Acid) – A double-stranded molecule that makes up the chromosomes in the center of a cell and carries genetic information in the form of genes. The genetic code utilized by DNA resides in the varying sequences of four nucelotide molecules: adenine, guanine, thymine and cytosine.

Double-Blinded – A kind of clinical study in which n either the particpants nor the doctors know who is recieving the experimental drug and who is recieving the placebo or standard comparison treatments. This method is believed to achieve the most accuracy because netiehr the doctors nor the patients can effect the observed results with their psychological biases.

Douching – Using water or a medicated soluation to clean the vagina and cervix.

Dyspareunia – The medical term for painful sex.

Dysplasia – Abnormal changes or growth of cells and tissues. See Cervical Dysplasia.

Dysura – Painful or difficult unration. Dysura may be due to STDs.


Efficacy – Strength, effectivness. The ability of a drug to control or cure an illness. Efficacy should be distinguished from activity, which is limited to a drug’s immediate effects on the microbe triggering the disease.

ELISA (Enzyme-Linked ImmunoSorbent Assay) — A diagnostic test utlizing an enzyme-labeled immunoreactant (antigen or antibody) and an immunosorbent (antigen or antibody bound to a solid support). The most common test used to detect the presence of HIV antibodies in the blood, which are indicative of ongoing HIV infection. One type of  ELISA is the preliminary test for HIV antibodies (to detect HIV infection). A positive ELISA test results must be confirmed by another test called a Western Blot.

Encephalitis – A brain inflammation of viral or other microbial origin. Symptpoms include headaches, neck pain, fever, nausea, vomiting an nervous system problems. Several types of opportunistic infections can cause encephalitis.

Endocervical curettage – The removal of tissues from the inside of the vervix using a spoon-shaped instrument called a curette.

Endometrium – The mucous membrane that line the uterus.

Envelope – The outer covering of a virus, sometimes called the coat.

Enzyme – A cellular protein whose shape allows it to hold together severl other molecules in close proximity to each other. Enzymes in this way are able to induce chemical reactions in other substances with little expenditure of energy and without being changed itself.

Epidemiology – The branch of medical science that studies the incidence, distribution and control of disease in a population.

Epithelial – Refers to the cell linings covering most internal and external surfaces of the cody and its organs.

Epitope – A unique molecular share or sequence carried on a micro-organism that triggers a specific antibody or cellular immune response.

Epstein-Barr Virus (EBV) – A member of the herpesvirus family that causes one of two kinds of mononucleosis (the other is caused by CMV). It infects the nose and throat and is contagious. It lies dormant in the lymph glands and has been assoicated with Burkitt’s lymphoma (see definition) and oral hairy leukoplakia (see definition).


Fallopian tubes – Tubes on each side of the uterus through whic an egg moves from the ovaries to the uterus.

Famciclovir (Famvir) – A prodrug (see definition) for an acyclovir-like active compound. It has especially high bioavailability (see definition) and is an approved therapy for shingles. It also is udner investigation for herpes simplex-2 (gential herpes).

FDA – The Food and Drug Adminsitration, an agency of the United States Department of Health and Human Services that regulate the testing of experiemtnal drugs and approves new medical products for marketing based on evidence of safety and efficacy.

First episode of herpes – The body’s first encounter with a particular types of herpes simplex, an event that often produces marked symptoms. There are two types of “first episodes.” A primary first episode describes the sypmtoms that appear in the personwho  has been infected with either herpes simplex type 1 (HSV-1) or HSV-2 before. It’s sometimes called a “true primary.” A nonprimary first episode describes the symptoms that occur in the person who has been nfected first with one type of HSV and then later infected with the second. For example, a personw ho is infected with HSV-1 and then years later infected with HSV-2 can be said to have a “first episode” of HSV-2 when he or she first has symptoms.

Fomite – An object, such as a towel, bicycle seat, or an article of clothing, that is not in iteself harmful, but is able to harbor pathogenic microorganisms and thus may serve as an agent of transmission for an infection. Many people think fomites can spread STDS, but there are very few documented cases of fomite transmission of any STD.

Fungal Infection – A range of distinct disease caused by fungi. Candidiasis, cryptococcosis and histoplasmosis are examples of AIDS-related fungal infections.


Ganglion – A knot-like grouping of the nerves that serve a particular part of the body.

Gential Ulcer Disease (GUD) – Ulcerative lesions on the genitals, usually caused by a sexually transmitted condition such as herpes, syphilis, or chancroid. The presence of genital ulcers may increase the risk of transmitting HIV.

Genital Warts (see Human Papillomavirus)

Gonorrhea – Gonorrhea is a bacterial infection that is spread through semen, vaginal fluids, and anal fluids. Because it is a bacterial infection there are antibiotics that can be taken for treatment. For men they may experience a burning,  yellowish discharge from their penis. Again women normally don’t experience symptoms but  it possible to have green or yellowish vaginal discharge, bleeding outside of their regular period, or pelvic pain.

Gram Stain  – A technique for preparing matieral for examination under a micrscope. This methos is used, for example, in diagnosing gonorrhea.

Granuloma Inguinale – A sexually transmitted disease cause by Calymmatobacterium granulomatis. Causes ulcerated granulmatous lesions that occur in the ingulinal regions and the genitalia.

Gynecologic oncologists – Doctors who specialize in treating cancers of the female reproductive organs.

Gynecology – The branch of medicine that involved care of the female reproductive systems and breasts.


Helper T-cell – See CD4 Cell.

Hepatitis A, B or C – All three types of Hepatitis have the same symptoms, if any at all. The difference is in the way in which each type of the virus is spread. Hepatitis A is transmitted through fecal contamination and Hepatitis B and C are spread through fluid-based transmission. Common symptoms of all three types are the possible yellowing of the skin and whites of the eyes, as well as nausea, fever, and abnormal urine or bowl movements. Most people have no symptoms at all.

Herpes -Herpes is spread through skin to skin contact, and can be classified as either oral herpes (HSV-1) on the lips or mouth or genital herpes (HSV-2). Herpes can be identified as painful blisters or cold sores that last an average of 2 to 10 days. For some people outbreaks reoccur from month to month. There is no cure for herpes, however there is antiviral medicine that will help to suppress breakouts.

Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) – HIV is the virus that is associated with AIDS. HIV suppresses the  immune system which protects the body against disease. Because HIV is a viral infection, latex condoms are very effective in preventing the transmission of the virus. Although people that are infected have no symptoms, initially they experience symptoms of a common cold or the flu followed by a period of no symptoms lasting anywhere from 2 to 10 years.

Holistic (Wholistic) Medicine – Various systems of health protection and restoration, both traditional and modern, that are reputedly based on the body’s natural healing powers, the various ways the different tissues affect each other and the influence of the external environment.

Hormone – An active chemical substance formed in the glands and carried in the blood to other parts of the body where it stimulates or suppresses cell and tissue activity.

Human papillomavirus (HPV) –  HPV can be associated with genital warts and cervical cancer, although most people don’t have symptoms. This virus is transmitted through skin to skin contact, so those that do have symptoms may experience warts (that look like cauliflower or broccoli) on the lips of the vagina or the head or the shaft of the penis. Warts may also be located on the cervix. Men are not at risk of cervical cancer – because they have no cervix! Most women are tested for HPV during the annual Pap smear.

Hysterectomy – An operation in which the uterus and cervix are removed.

Hysteroscopy – A surgical procedure in which a slender, light-transmitting telescope, the hysteroscope, is used to view th inside of the uterus or perform surgery.


Immune Deficiency – A breakdown of inability of certain parts of the immune system to function, thus making a person susceptible to certain diseases that they would have not contracted with a healthy immune system. Immune deficiences may be temporary or permanent and be triggered by genetic mutation, therapy with immune-suppressive drugs (as during organ transplants) or an infection such as HIV.

Immune System – The body’s complicated natural defense against disruption caused by invading microbes and cancers. There are two aspects of the immune system’s response to disease: innate and acquired. The innate part of the response is mobilized very quickly in response to infection and does not depend on recognizing specific proteins or antigens (see definition) foreign to an individual’s normal tissue. It includes complement, macrophages, dendritic cells and granulocytes. The acquired, or learned, immune reponses arises when dendritic cells and macrophages present pieces of antigen to lymphocytes, which are genetically programmed to recognize very specific amino acid sequences. The ultimate result is the creation of cloned populations of antibody-producing B-cells and cytotoxic (see definition) primed to respond to a unique pathogen.

Immunity – Protection against disease. Immunity can be achieved for hepatitis B and HPV through vaccination. Vaccines which can provide immunity from herpes and being tested.

Immunocompetent – Refers to an immune system capables of developing a normal protective response when confronted with invading microbes or cancer.

Immunocompromised – Refers to an immune system in which the response to infections and tumors are subnormal.

Immunosuppression – Weakening of the immune response that occurs with HIV infection as well as with some antiviral or anticancer treatment.

Immunotherapy – Treatment aimed at reconstituting an impaired immune system. Examples of experimental immunotherapies for AIDS include passive hyperimmune therapy (PHT), IL-2 and therapeutic vaccines.

Inflammation – The body’s response to tissue injury or infection which occurs in the affected tissues and adjacent blood vessels. The blood vessels’ permeability is increased, and the area become heavily populated with w3hite blood cells. Signs of inflammation are redness, swelling, pain, and sometimes loss of function. Not all of these signs are necessarily present in any given case.

Interferon – A type of biological therapy, treatment that can improve the body’s natural response to disease. It slows the rate of growth and division of cancer calls, causing them to become sluggish and die.

Intraepithelial – Within the layer of cells that forms the surface or lining of an organ.

 Intravenous (IV) – Injected directly into a vein.

Invasive Cervical Cancer – Cancer that has spread from the surface of the vervix to tissue deeper in the cervix or to other parts of the body.

In Vitro – Refers to laboratory experiments conducted in cell cultures grown in an artifical environment, for example in a test tube or culture plate.

In Vivo – Refers to studies conducted with humans or animals, in a living, natural environment.


Jacking off – slag term males use for masturbation

Jargon – The technical or specialized language used in a professional or other field of activity. Health care provides often use medical jargon when discussing STDs. We hope this Sexdual Health Glossary will make your conservations with yoru proivder more productive.

Jilling off – slag term females use for masturbation


Kaposi’s Sarcoma (KS) – An AIDS-defining illness consisting of individual cancerous lesions caused by an overgrowth of blood vessels. KS typically appears as pink or purple painless spots or nodules on the surface of the kin or oral activity. KS also can occur internally, especially in the intestines, lymph nodes and lungs, and in this case is life-threatening. There has been considerable speculation that KS is not a spontaneous cancer but is sparked by the virus. A species of herpes virus similar to Epstein-Barr virus cancer is currently under extensive investigation. Up to know, KS has been treated with alpha interferon, radiation therapy (outside the oral cavity) and various systemic and intralesional cancer chemotherapies. KS frequently occurs in immuno-compromised patients, such as those with AIDS.

Killer Cell – A generalized name for immune system cells that kill cancerous and virus-infected cells. Among the killer cells are T-cells (cytotoxic T-lymphocytes), NK (natural killer) cells and K-cells.


Laparoscopy – A surgical procedure in which a slender, light-transmitting telescope, the laparoscope, is used to view the pelvic organs or perform surgery.

Laparotomy – A surgical procedure in which an incison is made in the abdomen.

Laser – A powerful beam of light used in some types of surgery to cut or destory tissue.

Latency – The phenomenon by which disease (such as HSV or HPV) can hide away in the nerve roots in an inactive state, only to reactivate and cause viral shedding or symptoms again.

Lesion –  A very general term denoting any abnormality on the surface of the body whether on the skin or on a mucous membrane. Includes sores, wounds, injuries, pimples, tumors, on the skin or elsewhere.

Liposome – Microscopic globules of lipids manufactured to enclose medications. The liposome’s fatty layer is suppose to protect and confine the enclosed drug until the liposome binds with the outer membrane of target cells. By delivering treatments directly to the cells needing them, drug efficacy may be increased while overall toxicity is reduced.

Local Therapy – Treatment that affects cells in a tumor and the area close to it.

Localized – Restricted to a limited region of the body. The effects of many STDs are localized and if treated early do not progress beyond region.

Long-Term Nonprogressor – An individual who has been infected with HIV for at least seven to twelve years (different authors use different timespans) and yet retains a CD4 cell count within the normal range.

Lubricant (lube) – A slippery substance. Can be oil-, silicon, or -water-based. A vaginal lubricant may be helpful for women who feel pain during intercourse because of vaginal dryness. If using a lubricant with latex condoms, use one that is water- or silicone-based, as oil can weaken the latex or cause it to break.

Lymph – The almost colorless fluid that travels through the lymphatic system and carriers cells that help fight infections and other diseases.

Lymph Node (Lymph Gland) – Small bean-shaped organs made up mostly of lymphocytes (see definition), lymph fluid and connective tissue. Cluster of lymph nodes are widely distributed in the body and are essential to the functioning of the immune system. They are connected with each other and other lymphoid tissue by the lymphatic vessels.

Lymphadenopathy – Swelling and enlargement of the lymph nodes due to infection or cancer. The swollen nodes may be palpable or visible from outside the body.

Lymphocyte – White blood cells that mature and reside in the lymphoid organs and are responsible for the acquired immune response (see Immune System). The two major types of lymphocytes are T-cells and B-cells.


MAC (Mycobacterium Avium Complex) – A serious opportunistic infection caused by two similar bacteria (Mycobacterium avium and Mycobacterium intercellulare) found in the soil and dust particles. In AIDS, MAC can spread through the bloodstream to infect lymph nodes, bone marrow, liver, spleen, spinal fluid, lungs and intestinal tract. Typical symptoms of MAC include night sweats, weight loss, fever, fatigue, diarrhea, and enlarger spleen. MAC is usually found in people with CD4 counts below 100. MAC is also called MAI.

Macrophage – A large scavenger cell that ingests degenerated cells and foreign organisms. Macrophages exist in large numbers throughout the body and contribute to the development to acquired immunity by acting as antigen presenting cells. They also ingest and destroy foreign matter coated with antibody. Macrophages can be infected with HIV.

MAI (Mycobacterium Intercellulare) – See MAC.

Maintenance Therapy – Extended drug therapy, usually at a diminished dose, administered after a disease has been brought under control. Maintenance therapy is utilized when a complete cure is not possible, and a disease is likely to recur if therapy is halted.

Malabsorption – Inability of the intestines to absorb food, drug or any substance needed to maintain good health.

Malaise – A vague feeling of bodily discomfort and fatigue. This is a common symptom of many illnesses, include many STDs, and can often be the result of infection or a drug’s side effects.

Malignant – Cancerous; can spread to other parts of the body.

Mammogram – An X-ray of the breast, used to detect breast cancer.

Manifestation – A T-cell that bears receptors for a specific foreign antigen encountered during prior infection or vaccination. After an infection or a vaccination, some of the T-cells that participated in the response remain as memory T-cells, which can rapidly mobilize and clone themselves should the same antigen be re-encountered during a second infection at a later time.

Masturbation – Stimulating of one’s own or another’s genital organs, usually to orgasm, by means of manual contact or something other than sexual intercourse. Also known as self-pleasure or solo sex.

Menarche –The time in a young woman’s life when menstrual periods begin.

Meningitis – An inflammation of the meninges, the protective covering around the brain and spinal cord, usually accompanied by stiff neck and extra sensitivity to light. Septic meningitis, caused by bacteria, can be a serious condition and must be treated immediately. Aseptic meningitis, associated with viral infections such as herpes simplex virus (HSV)  and other causes, generally resolves by itself.

Menopause – The time in a women’s life when menstrual periods stop. Also called the “change of life.”

Menstruation – The periodic discharge of bloody fluid from the uterus occuring at more or less regular intervals during the life of a woman from age of puberty to menopause.

Metastasis – The spread of cancer from one part of the body to another. Cells that have metastisized are like those in the original (primary) tumor.

Microbe – A microscopic living organism, such as a bacteria, fungus, protozoa or virus.

Molluscum Contagiosum – small, waxy, flesh colored bumps that usually occur around the genitals or the thigh. Bumps normally appear a couple of month after infection. Although there are normally no symptoms some people may experience slight itching or sensitivity.

MRI(Magnetic Resonance Imaging) – A procedure that uses a magnet linked to a computer to create pictures of areas inside the body.

Mucous Membrane – Moist layer of tissue lining the digestive, respiratory, urinary and reproductive tracts — all the body cavities with openings to the outside world except ears.

Mycosis – Any disease caused by a fungus.

Myelitis – Inflammation of either the spinal cord or the bone marrow.

Myopathy – Progressive muscle weakness. Myopathy may arise as a toxic reaction to AZT or as a consequence of HIV infection itself.


Neoplasia – Abnormal new growth of cells.

Nerve Growth Factor (NGF) – A naturally produced substance that has many roles in the maintenance of nerves and nerve cells, especially sensory ones. Synthetic, recombinant NGF is a proposed therapy for HIV – and drug-associated neuropathies.

Neurologic – Relating to nervous system, including the brain.

Neuropathy – A disease of the nerves. See Peripheral Neuropathy.

NGU (NonGonococcal Urethritis) – Urethritis, manifested by urethral discharge, painful urination, or itching at the end of the urethra, is the response of the urethra to inflammation NOT due to gonococcal infection (gonorrhea).

NIAID (National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases) – The federal agency that is responsible for a great deal of the government-sponsored AIDS research. NIAID is a branch of the NIH (see NIH definition).

NIH (National Institutes of Health) – The federal agency responsible for overseeing government-sponsored biomedical research. It is divided into 24 institutes and research centers.

Nucleoside – A building block of DNA or RNA, the genetic matieral found in living organisms. Before being added to a DNA or RNA sequence, nucleosides must have a phosphate group added.

Nucleoside Analog – A type of antiviral drug, such as AZT, ddl, ddC, or d4T, whose makeup constitutes a defective version of a natural nucleoside. Nucleoside analogs make take the place of the natural nucleosides, blocking the completion of a viral DNA chain during infection of a new cell by HIV. The HIV enzyme reverse transcriptase is more likely to incorporate nucleoside analogs into the DNA it is constructing than is the DNA polymerase normally used for DNA creation in cell nuclei.

Nucleotide – A phosphorylated nucleoside (see nucleoside definition).


Obstetrician-Gynecologist – A physician with special skills, training and education in women’s health.

Obstetrics – The branch of medicine care of a woman during pregnancy, during labor and delivery, and after childbirth.

Ocular herpes – Herpes infection in the eyes.

Off-Label – Use of drug for a disease or condition other than the indication for which it was approved by the FDA. For example, many doctors prescribe paromomyci (humantin) for cryptosporidiosis, although it is not approved for treating this disease.

Oncologist – A doctor who specializes in treating cancer.

Open-Label Trial – A study in which both researchers and participants know what drug a person is taking and at what dose.

Opportunistic Infections (OI) – Infections that occur in persons with week immune systems due to AIDS, cancer or immunosuppressive drugs such as corticosteriods or chemotherapy. PCP, toxoplasmosis and cytomegalovirus are all examples of OIs.

Oral-facial herpes – The presence of latent herpes simplex infection in the trigeminal ganglion, at the top of the spine. When reactiviated, oral-facial herpes can cause symptoms anywhere on the mouth or face — typically cold sores on the lips. Recurrent oral-facial herpes is largely caused by HSV-1.

Oral Sex – slang terms include: brain, head, BJ, hummer, dome.

Organism – Any individual living thing, whether animal or plant. Each STD is caused by one or more specific organisms.

Ovaries – The pair of female reproductive glands in which the ova, or eggs are formed. The ovaries are located in the lower abdomen, one on each side of the uterus.


Pap Smear – See Pap Test.

Pap Test – A way to examine cells collected from the cervix and vagina. This test can show the presence of infection, inflammation, abnormal cells, or cancer. Also called a Pap Smear.

Papillomavirus – The virus group that includes the cause of genital warts or condylomata.

Papule – A small elevation or bump on the skin.

Pathologist – A doctor who identifies diseases by studying cells and tissues under a microscope.

PCP (Pneumocystis Carinii Pneumonia) – A pneumonia caused by an infection with Pneumocystis carinii. Pneumocystis carinii grows rapidly in the lungs of people with AIDS and is the leading AIDS-related cause of death. Pneumocystis carinii infections sometimes may occur elsewhere in the body (skin, eye, spleen, liver or heart). There are inexpensive drugs that can prevent and treat PCP.

PCR (Polymerase Chain  Reaction) Test – A very sensitive test that measures the presence or amount of RNA and DNA of a specific organism or virus (for example, HIV or CMV) in the blood and tissue.

Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID) – An inflammatory disorder that causes problems in the female genital tract. Most PID cases are caused by untreated Chlamydia or Gonorrhea. Diagnosed through a pelvic exam.

Pelvis – The lower part of the abdomen between the hip bones. Organs in a female’s pelvis include the uterus, vagina, ovaries, fallopian tubes, bladder, and rectum.

Penis – slang terms include: snake, the third leg, dick, wood, sausage, pecker, whang.

Peptide – Two or more chemically-linked amino acids.

Perinatal Transmission – Transmission of a pathogen, such as HIV, from mother to baby during birth.

Peripheral Neuropathy – A condition characterized by sensory loss, pain, muscle weakness and wasting of muscle in the hands or legs and feet. It may start with burning or tingling sensations or numbness in the toes and fingers. In severe cases, paralysis may result. Peripheral neuropathy may arise from an HIV-related condition or be the side effect of certain drugs.

Peyronie’s disease – A disease of unknown cause in which there are strands of dense fibrous tissue surrounding the corpus cavernosum of the penis , causing deformity and painful erection. Also known as penile fibromatosis.

Pharmacokinetics – The extent the body is able to absorb, distribute and eliminate a drug over time. 

Precancerous – Not cancerous, but may become cancerous with time.

Primary HIV Infection – The flu-like syndrome that occurs immediately after a person contracts HIV. This initial infection precedes seroconversion and is characterized by fever, sore throat, headache, skin rash and swollen glands. Also called acute infection.

Pubic Lice (Crabs) – For both men and women pubic lice causes intense itching and irritation of the genital area. It is transmitted through skin to skin contact during sex or other kinds of close physical contact.  There is a prescription medication that you can get from your health care provided, it is important to go to the clinic to make sure you get all those little bugs the first time!



Radiation Oncologist – A doctor who specializes in using radiation to treat cancer.

Radiation Therapy – Treatment with high-energy rays to kill cancers cells. External radiation is the use of a machine to aim high-energy rays at the cancer. Internal radiation therapy is the placement of radioactive material inside the body as close as possible to the cancer.

Rash – A general term applied to any eruption of the skin, especially those pertaining to communicable diseases. A rash is usually a shade of red, which varies with disease and is usually temporary.

Rectum – The last 6 to 8 inches of the large intestine. The rectum stores solid waste until it leave the body through the anus.

Recurrence – The return of symptoms after a remission (time without symptoms). An example of this is outbreaks of herpes after periods of time without herpes lesions.

Regimen – Regulation of diet, sleep, exercise, and manner of living to improve or maintain health.

Remission – Disappearance of the signs and symptoms of cancer. When this happens, the disease is said to be “in remission.” A remission can be temporary or permanent.

Reproductive system – In women, the organs that are directly involved in producing eggs and in conceiving and carrying babies.

Resectoscope – A slender telescope with an electrical wire loop or rollerball tip used to remove or destroy tissue inside the uterus.

Resistance – Reduction in a pathogen’s sensitivity to a particular drug. Resistance is thought to result usually from a genetic mutation. In HIV, such mutations can change the structure of viral enzymes and proteins so that an antiviral drug can no longer bind with them as well as it used to. Resistance detected by searching a pathogen’s genetic makeup for mutations thought to confer lower susceptibility is called genotypic resistance. Resistance found by successfully growing laboratory cultures of the pathogen in the presence of a drug is called phenotypic resistance. High-level resistance reduces a drug’s virus-suppressing activity hundreds of times. Low-level resistance represents only a few-fold reduction in drug effectiveness. Depending on the toxicity of the drug, low-level resistance may be overcome by using higher doses of the drug in question.

Retrovirus – A type of virus that, when not infecting a cell, stores its genetic information on a single-stranded DNA. HIV is an example of a retrovirus. After a retrovirus penetrates a cell, it constructs a DNA version of its genes using a special enzyme, reverse transcriptase. This DNA then becomes part of the cell’s genetic material.

Reverse Transcriptase (RT) – A viral enzyme that constructs DNA from an RNA template, which is an essential step in the life-cycle of a retrovirus such as HIV.

Risk factor – Something that increases the chance of developing a disease.

RNA (ribonucleic acid) – A single-stranded molecule composed of nucleotide sequences that is similar to the double-stranded DNA. In cells, RNA transmits the code that instructs the cells’ chemical machinery to produce structural proteins and enzymes. The RNA segments in the cells represent copies of portions of the DNA sequences in the nucleus. In retroviruses, RNA is the sole repository of the viral genes.



Sacral ganglion – The nerve root at the base of the spine. (The sacral ganglion serves as the site of latency in genital herpes infection.)

Safer Sex – Is the practice of using condoms (or other barrier methods of contraception) to reduce the risk of pregnancy or STI transmission among partners engaging in oral, vaginal, or anal sex.

Scabies – A burrowing little parasite mite that goes under the skin and lays eggs, which results in itchy skin with scabby scratches all over the body.2 Spread through skin to skin contact but also in nonsexual ways.

Schiller Test – A test in which iodine is applied to the cervix. The iodine colors healthy cells brown; abnormal cells remain unstained, usually appearing white or yellow.

Seroconversion – Development of detectable antibodies to HIV in the blood serum as a result of infection. It may take several months or more after HIV transmission for antibodies to the virus to develop. After antibodies to HIV appear in the blood, a person will test positive in the standard ELISA test for HIV.

Serology – A test that identifies the antibodies in serum (a clear fluid that is a component of the blood).

Seroprevalence – For HIV, the rate at which a given population tests positive on the ELISA test for HIV antibodies. The seroprevalence rate is nearly the same as the rate of HIV infection in a given population, leaving out mainly those who were recently infected.

Serostatus – The condition of having or not having detectable antibodies to a particular microbe in the blood as a result of infection — for example, HSV-1, HSV-2, or HIV. One may have either a positive or negative serostatus.

Shingles – A skin condition caused by reactivation of a Varicella zoster virus (VZV) infection, usually acquired in childhood (when it appears as chicken pox). It consists of painful, inflammatory blisters on the skin that follow the path of individual peripheral nerves. The blisters generally dry and scab, leaving minor scarring. Standard treatment is with famciclovir or acyclovir. Also see Herpes Virus.

Side Effects – Problems that occur when treatment affects healthy cells. For example, common side effects of cancer treatment are fatigue, nausea, vomiting, decreased blood cells, hair loss, and mouth sores.

Speculum – An instrument used to spread the vagina open so that the cervix can be seen.

Spermicide – An agent which kills spermatozoa.

Squamous cell carcinoma – Cancer that begins in squamous cells, which are thin, flat cells resembling fish scales. Squamous cells are found in the tissue that forms the surface of the skin, the lining of the hollow organs of the body, and the passages of the respiratory and digestive tracts.

Squamous intraepithelial lesion – A general term for the abnormal growth of squamous cells on the surface of the cervix. The changes in the cells are described as low grade or high grade, depending on how much of the cervix is affected and how abnormal the cells are. Also see SIL.

STI/STD – Sexually Transmitted Infections or Sexually Transmitted Diseases

Symptom – Any perceptible change in the body or its function that indicates disease or the kind of phase of disease. Often STDs produce symptoms; however, particularly in women, there may be no symptoms.

Syphilis – Syphilis is spread through fluid transmission or skin to skin contact with open sores. Syphilis is a bacterial infection that has three stages, but if caught early can be cured by antibiotics. In the first stage one would experience chancres which are painless open sores of the mouth or genitals that go away in a few weeks (it is best to get treatment after this stage). The second stage is a rash that spread all over the body but the primary places people see this rash in on the hands and feet (still a good place to get treatment). If gone without treatment Syphilis will go into a latent stage where the infection hides within the body with no symptoms for 3 to 40 years. Late stage Syphilis can result in heart, brain or nerve damage and death, and that is why it is important for sexual active people to get tested at least once a year. 1

System – Concerning or affecting the body as a whole. A systematic therapy is one that the entire body is exposed to, rather than just the target tissues affected by a disease.


T-Cell (T-Lymphocyte) – Any lymphocyte that matures in the thymus.

T4 Cell – See definition of CD4 cell.

T-Helper Cell – See definition CD4 cell.

Testosterone – A naturally occurring male hormone. When administered as a drug it can cause gain in lead body mass, increase sex drive and possibly aggressive behavior. Many men with HIV have low testosterone levels.

Trichomoniasis– Trichomonasis or “trich” is STD caused from an infection by a parasite. Symptoms include pain while peeing, foul smelling odor or discharge, or no symptoms at all. Spread through sexual activity or sharing towel or swimsuit with an infected person.

Therapeutic Vaccine – An injected therapy consisting of synthetic HIV antigen (e.g., gp160) that is administered to people who already have HIV. It is suppose to heighten and broaden the immune response to HIV, helping to halt disease progression. See definition of Candidiasis.



Vaginal Infection – Vaginal infections, or vaginitis is an inflammation of the vagina that creates discharge, odor, irritation, or itching. It is difficult to diagnose because vaginitis has many causes. Women can use a variety of over-the-counter medications to treat the these symptoms.

Vagina – slang terms include: pussy, cunt, poonani, purse, beaver, waffle, vajayjay




Yeast Infections/Candida Albicans– Both men and women can experience yeast infections. Although they can result from sexual activity sometimes women can get yeast infections from an imbalance or change in diet, wearing tight clothing, and taking antibiotics. For men yeast infections are commonly known as jock itch. Symptoms of a yeast infection may include an itchy or burning sensation, pain during peeing and/or a white, clumpy, yeast like discharge from either the vagina or penis.



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