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A severe immunological disorder caused by HIV, transmitted primarily through venereal routes or by exposure to contaminated blood or blood products, resulting in a defect in cell-mediated immune response manifested by increased susceptibility to opportunistic infections and to certain rare cancers, especially Kaposi's sarcoma.
Short for acquired immune deficiency syndrome. An infectious disease of the immune system caused by an human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). AIDS is characterized by a decrease in the number of helper T cells, which causes a severe immunodeficiency that leaves the body susceptible to a variety of potentially fatal infections. The virus is transmitted in infected bodily fluids such as semen and blood, as through sexual intercourse, the use of contaminated hypodermic syringes, and placental transfer between mother and fetus. Although a cure or vaccine is not yet available, a number of antiviral drugs can decrease the viral load and subsequent infections in patients with AIDS.
Acronym for acquired immune deficiency syndrome, a fatal disease caused by the human immunodeficiency virus, or HIV. Believed to have originated in Africa, AIDS has become an epidemic, infecting tens of millions of people worldwide. The virus, which is transmitted from one individual to another through the exchange of body fluids (such as blood or semen), attacks white blood cells, thereby causing the body to lose its capacity to ward off infection. As a result, many AIDS patients die of opportunistic infections that strike their debilitated bodies. AIDS first appeared in the United States in 1981, primarily among homosexuals and intravenous drug users who shared needles, but throughout the world, it is also transmitted by heterosexual contact. Today, scientists are hopeful that AIDS can be managed by new drugs, such as protease inhibitors, and need not be fatal. (See AZT.)