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ABSTINENCE: Choosing not to have any kind of sexual intercourse. For abstinence to be effective, people must not have any kind of sex, whether vaginal, oral, or anal. Some people wait until they are past their young age. Some people wait until they get married. Others choose not to have sex at all. Choosing when or if to have sex is a hard decision for everyone. People must take responsibility and accept whatever might happen because of a choice they make. ABSTINENCE from sex is the surest way not to get STDs or pregnant.

ACQUIRED: In disease terms, something that you get from someone else. Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), including HIV, are ACQUIRED.

ACUTE: Not lasting a very long time. A cold that lasts only two or three days could be referred to as ACUTE.

AIDS (Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome): AIDS is a measure of how much damage HIV has done to a person's immune system. It is not a disease. AIDS can develop after someone gets HIV. After HIV has been inside someone's body for a long time it can weaken or destroy their immune system. The immune system can't fight germs any more. They get different diseases or illnesses, also called opportunistic infections. Sometimes a doctor can still find that a healthy person with HIV has AIDS.

AIRBORNE VIRUS: Germs people get through sneezing, coughing or touching their mouth, eyes or nose. We get germs for colds and flu this way, but not STDs.

ANAL SEX: When a man puts his penis inside someone's anus. This is also called anal intercourse. People can get STDs this way if they do it to someone or if someone does it to them without one person wearing a latex condom. This could happen if infected blood from an anus got into the hole at the end of a penis. Also infected semen or pre-seminal fluid could get in or around an anus. Slang term: Greek sex.

ANTIBODY: A germ fighter. The immune system makes these when it sees a germ get inside the body. After they are made, they go into the blood. Then they find the germs and help kill them. For each different germ there is one special ANTIBODY that the immune system makes.

ANTIBODY DEVELOPMENT PERIOD: This is sometimes called a "window period." This is the time that it takes from when someone gets tested for HIV until the results get in. It may take as long as six months.

ANONYMOUS HIV TEST: A person doesn't give his or her name or address to the people who help them take an HIV test. Instead, the person is given a number and uses that as their name. When they go back to get their test results they give that number. This way, no one else can know the results unless the person who got tested has told him or her.

ANTIGEN: A germ (like a virus or bacteria) that gets inside the body. It doesn't belong inside the body and can make someone sick if it is not killed. To the body it is an enemy or invader. The germs that cause STDs, including HIV, are ANTIGENS.

ANTIBIOTIC: A medicine that kills bacteria and some other germs, but not viruses.

ANUS: The "butt hole, " or small opening in a persons rear-end. This is where feces--solid waste (sometimes called "poop," "crap," or "shit")--leaves the body.

ASYMPTOMATIC INFECTION: A state in which the person is infected by a germ or virus but does not have any signs or symptoms. This could also refer to a CARRIER. A good example of someone with an ASYMPOTMATIC INFECTION would be a person who has herpes who is between outbreaks.

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BACTERIA: Bacteria are one kind of microscopic (too small to see) germ. Many types of bacteria can make people sick or cause infections. Bacteria live in water, dirt, plants, animals or humans. Humans naturally have some in their body already. Humans can also get some from other people when they have unprotected sex. These kinds of BACTERIA can make people sick. There are medicines called ANTIBIOTICS that kill BACTERIA. Bacteria cause some sexually transmitted diseases, for example, chlamyida, gonorrhea, syphilis and "trich."

BACTERIAL VAGINOSIS (BV): BV is a vaginal infection, but it is not an STD. BV is actually an overgrowth of certain bacteria in the vagina. Douching can actually increase a woman's chances of getting BV. There are antibiotics and creams that will cure BV.

BARRIER: Something that stops or blocks things from going past it. A wall or a gate is a BARRIER. Condoms act as a barrier of protection between one person's body fluids and another person's body skin. Sheets of latex or plastic wrap can also be used as BARRIERS for ORAL SEX.

BIOPSY: Removal of tissue from the body for a diagnosis.

BIRTH: When the muscles of the uterus push the fetus out through the vagina. Delivering a baby is another way to say BIRTH.

BIRTH CONTROL: Another word for contraception.

BIRTH CONTROL PILLS: Pills that a woman can take every day to keep from getting pregnant. The pills are hormones. Once inside the body the hormones tell the ovaries not to make eggs. Then during sex (when sperm gets inside the woman) the sperm can't find an egg. A woman doesn't get pregnant. BIRTH CONTROL PILLS do not stop a woman or a man from getting STDs. They do not stop fluid with germs from getting inside the woman's vagina or the man's penis. People also call BIRTH CONTROL PILLS "the pill".

BISEXUAL: A person who likes or is attracted to both males and females. Someone who is BISEXUAL might fall in love or choose to have sexual contact with a male or with a female. Slang terms: AC/DC, and going or playing both ways.

BLOOD: A red liquid that flows through tubes or tunnels called veins and arteries inside a person. Most people have about 1 gallon (8 pints) of blood in their body. BLOOD is made of three parts: plasma, red blood cells and white blood cells. Many kinds of STDs can be TRANSMITTED from one person to another through an infected person's BLOOD.

BLOOD BORNE VIRUS: A kind of germ that lives in blood and can't live outside of the blood stream for very long. Air, heat and chemicals can easily kill this type of germ. There are many blood-borne viruses. HIV is a BLOOD BORNE VIRUS. Hepatitis B is another one.

BREAST MILK: Women make this for their newborn babies to drink. It is a fluid that can give HIV and some other STDs to babies if the mother has HIV or another STD inside her.

BREASTS: Both males and females have these on their chests. However, a female's BREASTS grow larger than a male's during puberty. They can make milk after a baby is born. During sex, touching the BREASTS feels good to most females and to some males.

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CANKER SORE: Open sores that appear around the mouth/lips, sometimes confused with herpes sores. These are also called cold sores and are not caused by herpes.

CARRIER: A person who has a germ or virus that can cause an STD, including HIV, even though they may have not signs or symptoms. A CARRIER can transmit the germ or virus to someone else through unprotected sex.

CASUAL CONTACT: Everyday things that we might do with other people. Hugging, holding hands, kissing with a closed mouth, wiping tears, playing games, drinking from the same glasses, eating from the same plate, or borrowing soap or clothes are examples. These are NOT ways someone can get sexually transmitted diseases, including HIV, from another person.

CELIBATE: Choosing not to have any kind of sex or else abstaining from sex.

CERVICAL SECRETIONS: These fluids come from a woman's cervix and out of the body through the vagina. They are usually a whitish color. If a woman has HIV or another STD, her cervical secretions can transmit (give) the STD to another person.

CERVIX: The lower part of the uterus. It has an opening into the vagina. This hole lets blood come out of the uterus during a period. It also lets sperm come into the uterus and fallopian tubes. It can be stretched open very big during childbirth to let the baby pass through. Imagine a ketchup bottle turned upside down. The neck of the bottle is the vagina and the part full of ketchup would be the uterus. If there were a gate between these two parts, that would be the CERVIX.

CHANCRE: A sore that appears at the place where infection with syphilis takes place. The sore is generally not painful for women, however it can be very painful for men.

CHILDBIRTH: Another word for birth.

CHRONIC: Happening for a long period of time.

CIRCUMCISION: A simple operation that removes the foreskin of a male's penis. This is usually done soon after a boy is born.

CLITORIS: Is an organ above the opening of a female's vagina and above the opening of the urethra. It is located where the folds of flesh come to a point in the upper/top/front/ part of a female's pubic area, between the labia. It is a very small, sensitive bump, about the size of a pea. It feels good when it is rubbed or touched. Slang terms: Man in the boat, clit.

COITUS INTERUPTUS: Oral, vaginal or anal intercourse that stops before ejaculation inside the receptive partner. It is not effective as a means of preventing pregnancy or the transmission of STDs.

COLPOSCOPE: An instrument that uses a special magnifying lens to examine the tissues of the vagina and cervix. An examination using a COLPOSCOPE may be used to see if a woman has human papillomavirus (genital warts). The examination is called a colposcopy.

COMMUNICABLE: Something, like a germ or virus, that is spread from one carrier or infected person to another.

CONCEPTION: CONCEPTION is the moment that a man's sperm successfully fertilizes a woman's egg. The sperm and egg fuse to form a ZYGOTE, which will eventually grow into an EMBRYO and then a FETUS.

CONDOM: A cover for a male's penis during intercourse. It could be made out of thin latex (rubber), polyurethane (soft plastic) or natural membranes (animal parts/skins). They can be bought one at a time or in packages without a doctor's prescription. They are unrolled over an erect penis before it goes into or near a vagina, anus or mouth. When a man ejaculates, the CONDOM acts like a bag and catches the semen. If the penis is inside with a vagina with a CONDOM on, a woman cannot get pregnant. All three types of CONDOMS will prevent pregnancy. To catch germs that cause HIV and other STDs or to stop germs from getting into the hole at the tip of a penis during intercourse, a person needs to use a latex CONDOM. CONDOMS are either lubricated with something water-based, or else non-lubricated. They can also have spermicide in them. Slang terms: Sheath, rubber, cap, jimmy cap, jimmy, raincoat, cover, glove, rubber.

CONFIDENTIAL TESTING: If you get a CONFIDENTIAL test for HIV or another STD, then only you and the doctor who performed the test can see the results. If someone wanted to see the results they would have to get your permission.

CONGENITAL: A condition that occurs at or around the time of birth; a CONGENITAL condition may be acquired (as an infection), or may be hereditary. STDs may be acquired at or before birth, but no STD is genetically transmitted.

CONTRACEPTION: Things people do or ways people stop pregnancy from happening. Some things prevent ovulation (releasing of an egg), fertilization (meeting of egg and sperm), or the implantation of a pre-embryo in the uterus. Some ways are permanent and others let a woman get pregnant when she stops using them. Birth control pills, spermicide, diaphragms, sterilization and latex condoms are some examples. Withdrawing and douching do not work. Not all CONTRACEPTION stops people from getting HIV and other STDs. Only latex condoms stop pregnancy and HIV from happening. Abstinence is the only 100 percent method for preventing both HIV infection and pregnancy.

COME: Another word for ORGASM.

CULTURE: A special substance that is used to grow germs. It may also mean the process of taking a specimen from a person and putting it into the special substance. CULTURES may be used to diagnose certain STDs, for example, chlamydia, herpes, gonorrhea.

CUM: Another word for semen.

CUNNILINGUS: When a person kisses, licks or sucks on a female's genitals. This is one way to have oral sex. People can get STDs this way. If they are doing it to someone who has an STD they can get the germ if infected blood or sexual fluid gets inside their mouth. If someone is doing it to them, they can get infected if blood from the infected person's mouth gets inside their vagina. A moisture barrier such as a dental dam or plastic wrap stops this from happening either way. Slang terms: going down on, muff diving, eating out.

CYTOMEGALOVIRUS (CMV): CMV is a VIRUS related to HERPES, but it is usually not very harmful to people with health immune systems. Persons with HIV or other illnesses or conditions that weaken the immune system can have serious health complications from CMV.

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DARK FIELD EXAM: A special laboratory technique that is used to identify the germ that causes SYPHILIS. The technique uses light that is reflected at an angle so that the germ shows up as a light-colored object against a dark background.

DEFICIENCY: Not having something or missing something. A person's body that cannot fight germs doesn't have a strong immune system. In other words, they have a deficiency, not enough germ fighters.

DENTAL DAM: One type of moisture barrier. People can use one during oral sex to stop STDs, including HIV. It is a square piece of latex that can be put over someone's anus or vagina. (This way germs cannot get into someone's mouth from blood or sexual fluids found in the anus or vagina or else into the vagina or anus from blood found in the mouth.) Dentists use it when they work on someone's mouth so that blood won't splash everywhere.

DESIRE: To want or crave something. Someone can desire to have sex with somebody else, to make friends, or to have ice cream.

DIAGNOSE: To tell when a person is infected or sick with a specific disease or illness.

DIAPHRAGM: A soft, rubber cup that fits over a woman's cervix. A woman can put it in her vagina and keep it there during and after vaginal sex, with cream or jelly spermicide. Diaphragms are about the size and shape of a tennis ball cut in half. A doctor fits the right sized diaphragm for each woman's cervix. This stops a woman from getting pregnant. It does not stop the male or female from getting HIV from each other or germs that cause other STDs.

DILDO: A sex toy that is either in the shape of a penis or an other rounded shape. It can be made of plastic or another material and put inside an anus or a vagina.

DISCHARGE: When used in talking about STDs, it means a fluid that is sometimes runny, thick, or lumpy. The fluid can come out of the vagina, penis, or anus. A DISCHARGE can be a sign of a STD or some other infection.

DOUCHING: Using water, coke, or another solution to clean the vagina and cervix. DOUCHING won't prevent the transmission of STDs and it can't keep a woman from getting pregnant either. DOUCHING can even encourage certain infections of the vagina. For most women, DOUCHING is unnecessary because the vagina is a self-cleaning organ with its own secretions.

DYSPHASIA: A change in the size, shape, and organization of cells. One potential cause of dysphasia of the cervix may be caused by human papillomavirus (genital or warts).

Contents provided by American Social Health Association