Glossary | Ophea Teaching Tools







    A person who supports the human, civil, and sexual rights of individuals who face stigma and discrimination. People do not have to face stigma and discrimination themselves to be allies.


    Antiretroviral drugs

    Drugs used to treat HIV by making it hard for the HIV virus to create more copies of itself, which gives the body’s immune system a chance to get stronger so that it can better fight off infections and cancers.


    Acquired immune deficiency syndrome

    A medical diagnosis given to a person living with HIV when he/she has developed one of the specific infections that are common in people with a weakened immune system.


    Broader determinants of Aboriginal health3

    Historical socio-political factors that contribute to contemporary health disparities evident in Aboriginal communities (First Nations, Métis, and Inuit), such as colonization and intergenerational trauma.



    The fear and/or hatred of bisexual individuals that is exhibited by prejudice, discrimination, intimidation, or acts of violence.



    A person who is attracted physically and emotionally to both males and females.


    CD4 cells

    A type of white blood cell in the human immune system.


    Coming out1

    Often refers to “coming out of the closet”— the act of disclosing one’s sexual orientation or gender identity (e.g., to friends, family members, colleagues).


    Determinant of health5

    Factors that influence health behaviours and health outcomes among individuals and groups at a population-level. These include personal factors such as biology, genetics, and personal habits, as well as socio-economic factors such as income, food security, housing, education and literacy, and social environments.


    Four corners6

    An active learning strategy that engages students, provides opportunities for interaction with others, and presents students with challenging situations or questions that require critical thinking skills. It can also be used to check learning. Learners move to a labelled corner of the room that best describes their response to a question posed. In each corner, learners work together to collect evidence and present an argument supporting their beliefs or solutions.



    A person who is physically and emotionally attracted to someone of the same sex. The word gay can refer to both males and females but is commonly used to identify males only.


    Gender identity1

    A person’s internal sense or feeling of being male or female, which may or may not be the same as one’s biological sex.


    Gender inequalities

    Gender inequalities refer to the disparities people and groups of people face in multiple areas of their lives because of stigma and discrimination related to their gender. Girls, women, and transgender people face multiple inequalities related to their gender. These inequalities are a key contributor to their vulnerability in HIV epidemics.


    Gender variant2

    A term to refer to individuals whose expressions of gender do not conform to the dominant gender norms of masculinity and femininity



    Used to describe individuals who perceive their gender to be neither that of a male or female but outside of the gender binary.



    The assumption that everyone is heterosexual and that this sexual orientation is superior. Heterosexism is often expressed in more subtle forms than homophobia.



    A person who is physically and emotionally attracted to someone of the opposite sex. Also commonly referred to as straight.


    HIV test — Anonymous

    A way of testing for HIV in which people do not have to share their name with the test site but rather are given a code they can use to get their test results.


    HIV test — Nominal

    A way of testing for HIV that is confidential but not anonymous. The person’s name is on the blood sample sent for testing.


    HIV test — Non-nominal

    A way of testing for HIV that is confidential but not anonymous. The blood sample is sent for testing with a code that can be linked back to the person’s name by their doctor.


    HIV test — Standard

    A vial of blood to a lab for analysis.


    HIV test — Point-of-Care test

    A rapid test (known as a point-of-care HIV test) that instantly tests blood drawn through a finger prick.


    Human immunodeficiency virus

    The virus that causes AIDS.



    Fear and/or hatred of homosexuality in others, often exhibited by prejudice, discrimination, intimidation, or acts of violence.


    (HIV) Incidence

    The number of new HIV cases within a population in a given time period.


    Internalized homophobia1

    A diminished sense of personal self-worth or esteem felt by an individual as a result of the experienced or presumed homophobia of others.



    A female who is attracted physically and emotionally to other females.


    Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, two-spirited, intersex, queer, and questioning

    This acronym is an umbrella term used to refer to a constellation of people whose sexual and/or gender identity does not fit with heteronormative mainstream expectations. Several similar terms are commonly used such as LGBT and LGBTQ. The multiplicity of terms is due to an ongoing and continuous evolution in our collective understanding of sexual orientation and gender identity. These acronyms do not adequately capture the diversity of sexual and gender identities among LGBTTIQQ people.


    Men who have sex with men

    This term comes from epidemiology. It encompasses gay and bisexual men, as well as men who do not self-identify as gay or bisexual but do engage in sexual activity with men.


    Most at-risk population

    Groups that are more likely than the general population to be exposed to and contract HIV as a result of HIV risk behaviours (largely due to determinants of health and social inequalities) and an increased likelihood of having a partner who is living with HIV due to the prevalence of HIV within the population.


    Opportunistic Infection

    An illness that a healthy immune system could contain or suppress, but that a weakened immune system has difficulties resisting or fighting against.


    Perinatal infection

    An infection passed from the mother to an embryo, fetus, or baby during pregnancy, childbirth, or early infancy. Also known as a vertical infection.



    An epidemiological statistic that indicates the proportion of individuals having a disease within a population.


    Prevention of Vertical Transmission

    Services to prevent the transmission of HIV from a mother to her child. It includes information and services to help women living with HIV prevent unplanned pregnancies; to prevent the transmission of HIV to a baby during pregnancy, birth, and feeding; and early detection and treatment of HIV in babies.


    Population Health Approach3

    A way of understanding what influences the health of Canadians developed by Health Canada to improve the health of the entire population and to reduce health inequities among groups by looking at “root causes.” Unlike the biomedical approach which focuses on health at an individual level, the population health approach focuses on the health of a population and groups within that population — with “health” being seen as a capacity or resource rather than a status.


    Protective factor5

    Conditions and personal and social resources that support health and well-being, reduce the potential for high-risk behaviours, and promote resiliency. Protective factors occur at different levels, including individual, families, communities, and broader factors that shape one’s access and opportunities.



    Historically, a negative term for homosexuality. More recently, the LGBTTIQQ community has reclaimed the word and uses it as a positive way to refer to itself.



    A person who is unsure of his or her sexual orientation.


    Risk3 (of HIV infection)

    The likelihood that someone will become infected with HIV. It is related to behaviours — such as unprotected sex and sharing injection equipment — in which there is a chance that the HIV virus will move from one person to another. The degree of risk depends on many factors, such as personal behaviours (e.g., whether condoms are used correctly and consistently) and biological factors (e.g., whether someone has an active STI).


    Risk factor5

    Conditions and personal and social factors that increase the potential for high-risk behaviours. Risk factors occur at different levels, including individual, families, communities, and broader factors that shape one’s access and opportunities.



    The point at which the immune system has produced enough HIV antibodies for a test to detect that the person is living with HIV.


    Sexual health4

    Sexual health is a state of physical, emotional, mental, and social well-being in relation to sexuality; it is not merely the absence of disease, dysfunction, or infirmity. Sexual health requires a positive and respectful approach to sexuality and sexual relationships, as well as the possibility of having pleasurable and safe sexual experiences, free of coercion, discrimination, and violence. For sexual health to be attained and maintained, the sexual rights of all persons must be respected, protected, and fulfilled.


    Sexual orientation1

    A person’s affection and sexual attraction to other persons.



    Sexuality is a central aspect of being human throughout life and encompasses sex, gender identities and roles, sexual orientation, eroticism, pleasure, intimacy, and reproduction. Sexuality is experienced and expressed in thoughts, fantasies, desires, beliefs, attitudes, values, behaviours, practices, roles, and relationships. While sexuality can include all of these dimensions, not all of them are always experienced or expressed. Sexuality is influenced by the interaction of biological, psychological, social, economic, political, cultural, ethical, legal, historical, religious, and spiritual factors.


    Sexually transmitted infection

    STIs are infections that are passed between people through sexual contact, including HPV, chlamydia, syphilis, gonorrhea, trichomonas, LGV, pubic lice, scabies, herpes, and hepatitis B. STIs were previously known as STDs. The terms have been changed because people can be infected with an STI without showing any signs of disease.



    An active learning strategy that provides students with the opportunity to process their thoughts and to check their ideas with a partner before, during, or after instruction. Students first think for a moment (or read a piece of text, or write about an idea or concept). Then, in pairs, students discuss their thinking, reading, or writing with a partner and determine what to share with a larger group. Finally, students share ideas or responses with a larger group.



    A person whose gender identity, outward appearance, expression, and/or anatomy does not fit into conventional expectations of male or female.



    The fear and/or hatred of transgender individuals that is exhibited by prejudice, discrimination, intimidation, or acts of violence.



    A person who experiences intense personal and emotional discomfort with his or her assigned birth gender and may undergo treatment (e.g., hormones and/or surgery) to transition gender.



    Some Aboriginal people identify themselves as two-spirit rather than as bisexual, gay, lesbian, or transgender. Historically, in many Aboriginal cultures, two-spirit persons were respected leaders and medicine people. Before colonization, two-spirit persons were often accorded special status based upon their unique abilities to understand both male and female perspectives.



    Factors that reduce a person’s ability to control their exposure to risk of HIV infection, such as the determinants of health.

    1 QA Sexual Orientation in Schools
    2 QA Gender Identities in Schools
    3 Behind the Pandemic: HIV and Social Inequity for Aboriginal Peoples
    4 World Health Organization in Canadian Guidelines for Sexual Health Education
    5 Youth Engagement Toolkit — Working with Middle School Students to Enhance Protective Factors and Resiliency: A Resource for Health Professionals working with Young People
    6 Ophea H&PE Curriculum Resources, 2010