adherence – taking your medicine at the right time each day and in the right way. Adherence and why it is so important. Adherence tips – easy ways to help.


antepartum refers to the time during pregnancy before a baby is born. Antepartum refers to the mother. See: intrapartum and postpartum.

amino acids

amino acids – amino acids are the building blocks of proteins. DNA codes for amino acids. Three nucleotides (segments of the genetic code) make one amino acid. Amino acids are critical to life, and have many functions in the way …


active – an active drug is a drug that still works to reduce viral load. The virus is still sensitive to that drug.


antiretrovirals – the common name for any HIV drugs. HIV is a retrovirus, so drugs to fight HIV are called antiretrovirals. Also abbreviated to ARVs.


abstract – in research, a short summary of a study (usually about 350 words)


autoantibody – abnormal antibodies produced against the body’s own tissues.


ascites – an abnormal accumulation of fluid in the abdomen, a sign of serious liver damage in people with hepatitis C.


antioxidant – a substance that reduces oxidative damage (damage due to oxygen) such as that caused by ‘free radicals’


albumin – a protein made by the liver. It carries drugs, hormones and waste products through the blood and maintains fluid levels within the body. An abnormally low level of albumin is a sign of serious liver damage.


axis – line on a graph to measure data. Graphs usually have a vertical axis (y-axis) and horizontal axis (x-axis). An axis should show what is being measured and the units of measurement, eg ‘time (in minutes)’.

Area Under the Curve

Area Under the Curve (AUC) – total exposure to drug over the dosing period.


asymptomatic – showing no signs of illness.


AST (aspartate aminotransferase; also called serum glutamicoxaloacetic transaminase; SGOT) – an enzyme that is made in many places throughout the body (heart, intestines, muscle) , which is monitored (as with ALT) routinely in HIV-positive people on ARVs to detect liver …


ARV – a drug that works against a retrovirus, eg treatment for HIV. See: antiretroviral.


antigen – a protein found on the surface of a virus or bacteria. It is recognised by the immune system which then generates antibodies.


anti-fungal – drug used to treat fungus infections.


antibody – a protein that is part of your immune system that is produced to fight an infection. Each antibody recognises a specific antigen.


antibiotic – drug used to treat bacterial infections. Sometimes they work against other kinds of infection.


anaemia – shortage of oxygen-carrying red blood cells

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