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HIV and Aids Terminologies / definitions:

STDs – sexually transmitted diseases
HIV – human immunodeficiency virus
Aids – acquired immunodeficiency syndrome
STIs – sexually transmitted infections
ARVs – antiretroviral drug
ART – Antiretroviral therapy

What is HIV and Aids?

HIV stands for human immunodeficiency virus, and AIDS stands for acquired immunodeficiency syndrome. HIV is a virus that attacks the body’s immune system by attaching to white blood cells called *helper T cells. The virus uses these cells to create more copies of itself, which are then released into the blood and destroy the helper T cells. This process weakens the immune system, making it harder for the body to fight off infections, illnesses, and certain cancers.

*The T helper cells, also known as CD4⁺ cells or CD4-positive cells, are a type of T cell that play an important role in the adaptive immune system. They aid the activity of other immune cells by releasing cytokines.

Medically HIV can’t be cured, but it can be controlled with proper medical care. Without treatment, HIV can gradually destroy the immune system, leading to AIDS in about 8 to 10 years. Symptoms of HIV and AIDS vary depending on the person and the phase of infection, but can include:
Swollen lymph glands, Diarrhea, Weight loss, Cough, Night sweats, Fever, Fatigue, Oral yeast infection, Shingles, and Pneumonia.

HIV is spread by contact with certain bodily fluids of a person with HIV, such as during unprotected sex or through sharing injection drug equipment.

What is STDs?

STDs, or sexually transmitted diseases, are infections that are spread from person to person through sexual contact or close physical contact. They can be caused by bacteria, viruses, fungi, or parasites, and can be passed through vaginal, oral, and anal sex, and through intimate physical contact like heavy petting. Many STIs have no symptoms, so people can have an infection but not know it.

What is STIs

STIs, or sexually transmitted infections, are infections that are spread through unprotected sexual contact. They can also be transmitted through infected blood or blood products, during pregnancy, childbirth, and breastfeeding. STIs are caused by over 30 different bacteria, viruses, and parasites, and can be transmitted through vaginal, anal, and oral sex.

What is ARVs

ARVs stands for antiretrovirals, which are drugs used to treat HIV and other retroviruses by preventing them from replicating. ARV therapy, also known as ART, is the medication that treats HIV. ART usually involves two or three active HIV drugs, sometimes in a single pill, and sometimes includes a booster drug.

Side effects of ARVs

As of July 2023, 75.8% of people in South Africa’s public health sector on antiretroviral treatment (ART) take a three-in-one combination of the drugs tenofovir, lamivudine, and dolutegravir (TLD). TLD is a film-coated tablet that contains 50 mg of dolutegravir, 300 mg of lamivudine, and 300 mg of tenofovir disoproxil fumarate.

What side effects may I notice from receiving Tenofovir (Viread) medication?

  • allergic reactions like skin rash, itching or hives, swelling of the face, lips, or tongue.
  • bone pain.
  • breathing problems.
  • fast, irregular heartbeat.
  • muscle pain.
  • nausea, vomiting, unusual upset stomach or stomach pain.
  • signs and symptoms of kidney injury like trouble passing urine or change in the amount of urine
  • signs and symptoms of liver injury like dark yellow or brown urine; general ill feeling or flu-like symptoms; light-colored stools; loss of appetite; nausea; right upper belly pain; unusually weak or tired; yellowing of the eyes or skin
  • signs of infection – fever or chills, cough, sore throat, pain or trouble passing urine


What side effects may I notice from receiving Lamivudine medication?

Lamivudine can cause serious, life-threatening side effects, especially when used for a long time, including:

  • Muscle disorders
  • Liver problems
  • Pancreatitis in some children
  • Immune system changes
  • Lactic acidosis, a potentially life-threatening condition caused by a buildup of lactic acid in the blood
  • Hepatic decompensation,
  • Peripheral neuropathy,
  • Aplastic anemia,
  • Stevens-Johnson syndrome,
  • Fat redistribution
  • blood disorders, such as severe anemia
  • Lamivudine can also make you dizzy, so you should avoid driving, using machinery, or doing anything that needs alertness until you can do it safely. Alcohol or marijuana (cannabis) can make you more dizzy, and alcoholic beverages may also worsen the side effects of this medication.


 What side effects may I notice from receiving Dolutegravir medication?

Dolutegravir can cause serious, life-threatening side effects. These include severe skin rash and allergic reactions, liver problems, and drug interactions.

what is the Stages of HIV

HIV infection has three stages: acute, chronic, and acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS). There is no cure for HIV, but treatment with antiretroviral therapy (ART) can slow or stop HIV from progressing from one stage to the next.


  • Acute HIV infection: Some people develop a short illness within 2–4 weeks of exposure to the virus. This illness can include flu-like symptoms such as fever, headache, muscle aches, and rash.
  • Chronic HIV infection
  • AIDS


Not all people will see their condition progress at the same rate or display the same symptoms. Early detection and effective treatment can enable a person with HIV to lead a normal life.