Glossary of Terms

Toolkit Sections

Glossary of Terms and List of Acronyms

A thru D
AIDS Service Organization (ASO): A health association, support agency, or other service actively involved in the prevention and treatment of HIV/AIDS.

Capacity: often refers to skills, knowledge and ability but can also include things such as access, leadership, infrastructure, time, commitment and resources and all that is brought to bear on a process to make it successful (Frank & Smith, 1999).

CD4 count: A measurement of the number of CD4 cells in a sample of blood. The CD4 count is one of the most useful indicators of the health of the immune system and the progression of HIV/AIDS. A CD4 cell count is used by health care providers to determine when to begin, interrupt, or halt anti-HIV therapy; when to give preventive treatment for opportunistic infections; and to measure response to treatment. A normal CD4 cell count is between 500 and 1,400 cells/mm3 of blood, but an individual’s CD4 count can vary. In HIV-infected individuals, a CD4 count at or below 200 cells/mm3 is considered an AIDS-defining condition.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC): An agency of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) that is charged with protecting the health and safety of citizens at home and abroad. The CDC serves as the national focus for developing and applying disease prevention and control, environmental health, and health promotion and education activities designed to improve the health of the people of the United States.

Clinical Trial: A research study that uses human volunteers to answer specific health questions. Carefully conducted clinical trials are regarded as the fastest and safest way to find effective treatments for diseases and conditions as well as other ways to improve health. Interventional trials use controlled conditions to determine whether experimental treatments or new ways of using known treatments are safe and effective. Observational trials gather information about health issues from groups of people in their natural settings. Clinical trials may be prospective (studying data from a time point forward) or retrospective (studying data from collected records in the past).

Community: A fluid concept in that it has various dimensions, means different things to different people and the boundaries and membership are constantly. While community is often viewed as an ideal and harmonious unit, it must also be seen as diverse and characterized by degrees of difference and naturally occurring conflict. Definitions of community can be categorized according to sociological, systems, and individual perspectives. Communities may be geographic, non-geographic, the general public, and users of service (compiled from Calgary Health Region, 2002; Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 1997; Social Planning Council of Winnipeg, 2000; Winnipeg Regional Health Authority, 2007).

Community Based Organization (CBO): A service organization that provides social services to local clients. CBOs include nonprofit organizations and free clinics targeted at helping people with HIV.

Community-Based Participatory Research (CBPR): A collaborative approach to research that equitably involves all partners in the research process and recognizes the unique strengths that each brings. CBPR begins with a research topic of importance to the community, has the aim of combining knowledge with action and achieving social change to improve health outcomes and eliminate health disparities. (

Community Building: Organizing a group of people around a shared goal, and then getting them to work together in ways that will achieve it (Lenihan, D., Barber, T., Fox, G. & Miljoy, J., 2007).

Community Capacity Building: Development work that strengthens the ability of community organizations and groups to build their structures, systems, people and skills so that they are better able to define and achieve their objectives and engage in consultation and planning, manage community projects and take part in partnerships and community enterprises. It includes aspects of training, organizational and personal development and resource building. It places the emphasis on existing strengths and abilities, and is based on an assumption that communities which have an active and spirited citizenry will be robust, vibrant, more caring and have fewer social problems (compiled from Frank & Smith, 1999; Murphy & Thomas, 2005; Winnipeg Regional Health Authority, 2007).

Community Engagement: A process of involving, at various levels of participation, empowerment and capacity, groups of citizens affiliated by geographic proximity and/or special interest and/or similar situations to address issues affecting the well being of those citizens. The process is based on interpersonal communication, respect and trust, and a common understanding and purpose. It strengthens the capacity of communities to take action that produces positive and sustainable changes locally, promotes and facilitates community participation in the formation of policy and delivery of services, and fosters collaboration across government departments and throughout the community in relation to issues affecting quality of life (adapted from Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 1995; Department of Emergency Services, 2001; Home Office, 2005).

Community Level Intervention: Community-level interventions are a promising approach for preventing the spread of HIV infection (Kelly, 1999). Community-level interventions typically combine the use of mass media messages (e.g., through TV or radio PSAs) and/or “small media” materials (e.g., flyers, newsletters) with outreach by program staff or peer volunteers. These individuals engage community members in discussion about HIV and call attention to or reinforce the prevention messages in the media (McAlister, 1991).

Community Mobilization: An attempt to bring both human and non-human resources together to undertake developmental activities in order to achieve sustainable development.

Community Participation: A term often used synonymously with involvement. People are supported to become actively and genuinely involved in defining the issues of concern to them, in making decisions about factors that affect their lives, in formulating and implementing policies, in planning, developing and delivering services and in taking action to achieve a change.

Consultation: A level of engagement where the objective is to actively seek and obtain a community response (views and opinions), before a decision is made, on possible solutions related to policies, programs, services, or issues. Communities’ views are one of a variety of sources of input that are taken into consideration in the final decision made by the organization (adapted from Vancouver Coastal Health, 2003; Winnipeg Regional Health Authority, 2007).

Controlled Trial: A control is a standard against which experimental treatments may be compared and evaluated for safety and effectiveness. In clinical trials, one group of patients may be given an experimental drug, while another group (the control group) is given either a standard treatment for the disease or a placebo.

Cultural Competence: Cultural and linguistic competence is a set of congruent behaviors, attitudes, and policies that come together in a system, agency, or among professionals that enables effective work in cross-cultural situations. ‘Culture’ refers to integrated patterns of human behavior that include the language, thoughts, communications, actions, customs, beliefs, values, and institutions of racial, ethnic, religious, or social groups. ‘Competence’ implies having the capacity to function effectively as an individual and an organization within the context of the cultural beliefs, behaviors, and needs presented by consumers and their communities. (Adapted from Cross, 1989).

Cultural Responsiveness: Cultural responsiveness describes the capacity to respond to the healthcare issues of diverse communities.
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E thru H
Empowerment: A process whereby individuals or communities gain confidence, self-esteem and power to articulate their concerns and ensure that action is taken to address them.

Ethnicity and Race: Consideration of race and ethnicity as risk factors rather than risk markers may compromise scientific rigor. For example, race and ethnicity data are often used epidemiologically to explain all variation between groups that remains after controlling for age and gender. Because data on socioeconomic status and income are not available, associations between race or ethnicity and health outcomes may not be further examined for confounding. Use of race and ethnicity data in surveillance may reinforce stereotyping, mistrust, and racism. The use of race and ethnicity data in public health surveillance may foster stereotyping and stigmatization. The collection of data on race and ethnicity may evoke mistrust of data gatherers by persons and groups about whom public health surveillance data are gathered. The use of race and ethnicity data fosters an inappropriate ‘minority model’ of public health and health care, suggesting that affected subpopulations are ‘high risk,’ ‘hard to reach,’ ‘hard to serve,’ or ‘noncompliant.’

General Public / Public: The general group of individuals/citizens who, though interested in social services, do not choose to have the same level of involvement in decision-making as service users or consumers, their families, advocates, etc. (adapted from Vancouver Coastal Health, 2003).

Health Disparity: Differences in health status among distinct segments of the population including differences that occur by gender, race or ethnicity, education or income, disability, and geographic location. (North Carolina Health Objectives, 2010).

Health equity: Equity in health is the absence of systematic disparities in health (or in the major social determinants of health) between groups with different levels of underlying social advantage/disadvantage—that is, wealth, power, or prestige. Assessing health equity requires comparing health and its social determinants between more and less advantaged social groups. These comparisons are essential to assess whether national and international policies are leading toward or away from greater social justice in health.

Hispanic: Of or relating to Spain or to Spanish-speaking countries, esp. those of Latin America. (Wikipedia)
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I thru L
Incidence: The rate of occurrence of new cases of a particular disease in a given population, often reported as the number of cases per 100,000 people.

Integrated Service Delivery: Integrated Service Delivery is about serving Manitobans better. It is a Department initiative to transform policy development and service delivery towards a more accessible, seamless and responsive service delivery system in support of individuals, children and families (Manitoba Family Services and Housing, 2004).

Intersectoral Networking: Forming and building relationships between different jurisdictions or sectors in order to take action on an issue or achieve outcomes in a way that is more effective, efficient or sustainable than could be achieved by one jurisdiction or sector working alone. Actions taken and outcomes achieved support the health and well-being of individuals, communities and populations by addressing the determinants of health.

Involvement: A term often used synonymously with participation. It implies being included as a necessary part of something.

Latino/a: A Latin American inhabitant of the United States. (Wikipedia)

Local Area Development: Involves the development of community capacity and citizen involvement in building healthy communities i.e., enabling and supporting citizens in coming together to address issues that impact the health of a community.
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M thru P
MSM: An abbreviation for the term men who have sex with men.

National Institutes of Health (NIH): A multi-institute agency of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). NIH conducts research in its own laboratories and funds research in universities, medical schools, hospitals, and other research institutions throughout the United States and abroad.

Organizational Capacity Building: The work that strengthens and enables an organization to build its structures, systems, people and skills so that it is better able to define and achieve objectives while engaging in consultation and planning with the community, and taking part in partnerships. It includes aspects of training, organizational development and resource building.

Prevalence: The number of people in a population who are affected with a particular disease or condition at a given time. Prevalence can be thought of as a snapshot of all existing cases of a disease or condition at a specified time.

Prevention Program: A system of services, opportunities, or projects, designed to stop something from happening.

Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PREP): The use of antiretroviral drugs as a preventive measure to potentially decrease the risk of HIV transmission.

Public Participation: The process by which public concerns, needs and values are incorporated into governmental decision making. Public participation involves two-way communication with the overall goal of better decisions, supported by the public. Participation processes may be single event or they may be embedded in long-term system activities or partnership processes.
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Q thru T
Stakeholders: Persons who have a personal stake in the issue at that time. Stakeholders include but are not limited to providers, clients, organizations, communities, expert advisors, other government departments, and politicians. They also include partners who collaborate to reach a mutually accepted goal.

Standard Of Care: A treatment plan that experts agree is appropriate, accepted, and widely used for a given disease or condition.

Statistically significant: When a result of a statistical manipulation is unlikely to have occurred by chance.

Structural level intervention: Structural interventions locate the source of public-health problems in factors in the social, economic and political environments that shape and constrain individual, community, and societal health outcomes. (Academy for Educational Development Center on AIDS and Community Health)

Syringe Exchange Programs (SEP): A way for injection drug users to safely dispose of used syringes and to obtain sterile syringes at no cost. In addition to exchanging syringes, many SEPs provide a range of related prevention and care services that are vital to helping injection drug users reduce their risks of acquiring and transmitting blood-borne viruses as well as maintain and improve their overall health. (
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U thru X
Undetectable Viral Load: The point at which levels of HIV RNA (ribonucleic acid) in the blood are too low to be detected with a viral load test. This does not mean that the virus has stopped replicating or has been removed from the body entirely, only that the small amount of virus remaining is below the test’s ability to measure it. The viral load below which a test cannot detect the virus depends on the brand of the viral load test.