Glossary of Terms

Common terms that you may encounter on the site.


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A (9) | B (2) | C (2) | D (2) | E (6) | G (1) | H (2) | I (8) | K (1) | L (1) | M (2) | P (5) | R (1) | S (5) | T (4) | U (1) | V (6)

  • Serum

    The liquid obtained after allowing blood to clot and separating out solids.

  • Sexually transmitted disease (STD)

    An infectious illness acquired through intimate contact with an infected person. Examples include syphilis, gonorrhea, HPV, HIV, herpes, Chlamydia, and others. Also commonly called sexually transmitted infection (STI).

  • SIV (Simian immunodeficiency virus)

    Simian immunodeficiency viruses are retroviruses found in primates. Researchers have hypothesized that SIVs led to the transmission of HIV (human immunodeficiency virus) in humans. Evidence suggests that both HIV-1 and HIV-2 originated in Africa, with HIV-1 being a relative of a SIV that infects wild chimpanzees, and HIV-2 being a relative of one that infects the sooty mangabey. It is likely that the first human cases of HIV resulted from contact with an infected chimpanzee or monkey.

  • Strain (of a virus)

    A variant of a virus. Strains of a certain type of virus are usually differentiated by minor genetic changes. They retain enough similarities, however, to belong to the same species.

  • SV40 (Simian Virus 40)

    A polyomavirus (not to be confused with poliovirus) found in both monkeys and humans. Early versions of the polio vaccine were found to be contaminated with SV40, which led to widespread alarm when tests showed that hamsters infected with the virus grew cancerous tumors. Long-term epidemiological studies, however, found no difference in the incidence of cancer among those who did and did not receive the contaminated vaccine. No evidence to date suggests that SV40 can cause disease in humans.