skip navigation

Skip Nav

Education Materials

AIDSinfo Glossary Search

A - Z Index

glossary a-z index

Acute Retroviral SyndromeAudio (En español)

Flu-like symptoms of acute HIV infection that may appear approximately 2 to 4 weeks after infection. Symptoms such as fever, headache, fatigue, and swollen lymph nodes can last from a few days to 4 weeks, and then subside. During the acute stage of HIV infection, many, but not all, people will have symptoms of acute retroviral syndrome.

See Related Term(s):  Acute HIV Infection


Antiretroviral (ARV) Audio (En español)

A drug used to prevent a retrovirus, such as HIV, from replicating. The term primarily refers to antiretroviral (ARV) HIV drugs.

See Related Term(s):  Drug Class, Retrovirus


Antiretroviral Pregnancy RegistryAudio (En español)

A project established to monitor prenatal exposures to antiretroviral (ARV) drugs and to detect any potential increase in the risk of related birth defects. Pregnant women exposed to ARV drugs voluntarily enroll in the Registry through their health care providers. Information provided to the Registry includes no identifying patient information.

Antiretroviral Therapy (ART) Audio (En español)

Also known as: Combination Therapy, Combined Antiretroviral Therapy, Highly Active Antiretroviral Therapy

The recommended treatment for HIV infection. Antiretroviral therapy (ART) involves using a combination of three or more antiretroviral (ARV) drugs from at least two different HIV drug classes to prevent HIV from replicating.

See Related Term(s):  Drug Class


Antiretroviral Toxic NeuropathyAudio (En español)

Nerve damage that is due to antiretroviral (ARV) drugs.

See Related Term(s):  Neuropathy


Antisense AntiviralAudio (En español)

A drug made of short segments of DNA or RNA that can bind to and alter or suppress the function of viral DNA or RNA. Antisense antivirals prevent viruses from replicating.

AntiviralAudio (En español)

A drug used to prevent the growth or replication of viruses.

See Related Term(s):  Virus

Combined Antiretroviral Therapy

Also Known As: Antiretroviral Therapy


Genotypic Antiretroviral Resistance Test (GART) Audio (En español)

Also known as: Genotypic Assay

A type of resistance test that detects drug-resistant mutations in HIV genes. Resistance testing is used to guide selection of an HIV regimen when initiating or changing antiretroviral therapy (ART).

See Related Term(s):  Phenotypic Antiretroviral Resistance Test, Resistance Testing

Highly Active Antiretroviral Therapy

Also Known As: Antiretroviral Therapy

HIV Viral Core

Also Known As: Core

HIV Viral Envelope

Also Known As: Envelope


Phenotypic Antiretroviral Resistance TestAudio (En español)

Also known as: Phenotypic Assay

A type of resistance test that measures the extent to which a person's strain of HIV will multiply in different concentrations of antiretroviral (ARV) drugs. Resistance testing is used to guide selection of an HIV regimen when initiating or changing antiretroviral therapy (ART).

See Related Term(s):  Genotypic Antiretroviral Resistance Test, Resistance Testing

Proviral DNA

Also Known As: Provirus

Sustained Viral Suppression

Also Known As: Sustained Virologic Response


Undetectable Viral LoadAudio (En español)

When the amount of HIV in the blood is too low to be detected with a viral load (HIV RNA) test. Antiretroviral (ARV) drugs may reduce a person's viral load to an undetectable level; however, that does not mean the person is cured. Some HIV, in the form of latent HIV reservoirs, remain inside cells and in body tissues.

See Related Term(s):  Latent HIV Reservoir, Viral Load Test


Viral EvolutionAudio (En español)

The change in the genetic makeup of a virus population as the viruses mutate and multiply over time. HIV evolves rapidly because of its high mutation and replication rates. Antiretroviral therapy (ART) and the body's immune response can also influence HIV evolution.

Viral LatencyAudio (En español)

When a virus is present in the body but exists in a resting (latent) state without producing more virus. A latent viral infection usually does not cause any noticeable symptoms and can last a long period of time before becoming active and causing symptoms. HIV is capable of viral latency, as seen in the reservoirs of latent HIV-infected cells that persist in a person’s body despite antiretroviral therapy (ART).

See Related Term(s):  Latent HIV Reservoir


Viral Load (VL) Audio (En español)

The amount of HIV in a sample of blood. Viral load (VL) is reported as the number of HIV RNA copies per milliliter of blood. An important goal of antiretroviral therapy (ART) is to suppress a person’s VL to an undetectable level—a level too low for the virus to be detected by a VL test.

See Related Term(s):  Viral Load Test


Viral Load TestAudio (En español)

A laboratory test that measures the amount of HIV in a blood sample. Results are reported as the number of copies of HIV RNA per milliliter of blood. Examples of viral load tests include quantitative branched DNA (bDNA), reverse transcriptase-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR), and qualitative transcription-mediated amplification. Viral load tests are used to diagnose acute HIV infection, guide treatment choices, and monitor response to antiretroviral therapy (ART).

See Related Term(s):  Qualitative Transcription-Mediated Amplification, Quantitative Branched DNA, Reverse Transcriptase-Polymerase Chain Reaction


Viral ReboundAudio (En español)

Also known as: Rebound

When a person on antiretroviral therapy (ART) has persistent, detectable levels of HIV in the blood after a period of undetectable levels. Causes of viral rebound can include drug resistance or poor adherence to an HIV treatment regimen.

See Related Term(s):  Undetectable Viral Load


Viral ReplicationAudio (En español)

Also known as: Replication

The process by which a virus multiplies.

See Related Term(s):  Life Cycle

Viral Set Point

Also Known As: Set Point


Viral SuppressionAudio (En español)

Also known as: Virologic Control

When antiretroviral therapy (ART) reduces a person’s viral load (HIV RNA) to an undetectable level. Viral suppression does not mean a person is cured; HIV still remains in the body. If ART is discontinued, the person’s viral load will likely return to a detectable level.

See Related Term(s):  Undetectable Viral Load


Viral TropismAudio (En español)

Also known as: Tropism

When HIV selectively attaches to a particular coreceptor on the surface of the host cell. HIV can attach to either the CCR5 coreceptor (R5-tropic) or the CXCR4 coreceptor (X4-tropic) or both (dual-tropic).

See Related Term(s):  Dual-Tropic Virus, R5-Tropic Virus, X4-Tropic Virus