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STD Related Terms

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  • A serious opportunistic infection caused by two similar bacteria (Mycobacterium avium and Mycobacterium intercellulare) found in the soil and dust particles. In AIDS, MAC can spread through the bloodstream to infect lymph nodes, bone marrow, liver, spleen, spinal fluid, lungs and intestinal tract. Typical symptoms of MAC include night sweats, weight loss, fever, fatigue, diarrhea and enlarged spleen. MAC is usually found in people with CD4 counts below 100. MAC is also called MAI.

  • Macrophage

  • A large scavenger cell that ingests degenerated cells and foreign organisms. Macrophages exist in large numbers throughout the body and contribute to the development of acquired immunity by acting as antigen presenting cells. They also ingest and destroy foreign matter coated with antibody. Macrophages can be infected by HIV.


  • See MAC.

  • Maintenance Therapy

  • Extended drug therapy, usually at a diminished dose, administered after a disease has been brought under control. Maintenance therapy is utilized when a complete cure is not possible, and a disease is likely to recur if therapy is halted.

  • Malabsorption

  • Inability of the intestines to absorb food, drug or any substance needed to maintain good health.

  • Malaise

  • A vague feeling of bodily discomfort and fatigue. This is a common symptom of many illnesses, including many STDs, and can often be the result of infection or a drug's side effects.

  • Malignant

  • Cancerous; can spread to other parts of the body.

  • Mammogram

  • An X-ray of the breast, used to detect breast cancer.

  • Manifestation

  • The outward sign that an illness is present

  • Memory T-Cell

  • A T-cell that bears receptors for a specific foreign antigen encountered during a prior infection or vaccination. After an infection or a vaccination, some of the T-cells that participated in the response remain as memory T-cells, which can rapidly mobilize and clone themselves should the same antigen be re-encountered during a second infection at a later time.

  • Menarche

  • The time in a young woman's life when menstrual periods begin.

  • Meningitis

  • An inflammation of the meninges, the protective covering around the brain and spinal cord, usually accompanied by stiff neck and extra sensitivity to light. Septic meningitis, caused by bacteria, can be a serious condition and must be treated immediately. Aseptic meningitis, associated with viral infections such as herpes simplex virus (HSV) and other causes, generally resolves by itself.

  • Menopause

  • The time in a women's life when menstrual periods stop. Also called the 'change of life.'

  • Menstruation

  • The periodic discharge of bloody fluid from the uterus occurring at more or less regular intervals during the life of a woman from age of puberty to menopause.

  • Metastasis

  • The spread of cancer from one part of the body to another. Cells that have metastisized are like those in the original (primary) tumor.

  • Microbe

  • A microscopic living organism, such as a bacteria, fungus, protozoa or virus.

  • Moisture barrier

  • A material, usually latex, used during sexual activity to prevent sexual fluids or blood from passing between people. In addition to condoms for sexual intercourse, moisture barriers for oral sex include household plastic wrap or 'dams,' such as the SheerGlyde Dam(TM).

  • Molluscum Contagiosum

  • A skin condition caused by a pox virus infection, distinguished by small dome-shaped papules (bumps) on the face, upper trunk or extremities. Current treatment is mainly cosmetic. It often involves application of liquid nitrogen to the papules as a means of excising them. For more information read our FAQs on molluscum contagiosum.


  • A procedure that uses a magnet linked to a computer to create pictures of areas inside the body.

  • Mucous Membrane

  • Moist layer of tissue lining the digestive, respiratory, urinary and reproductive tracts

  • Mycosis

  • Any disease caused by a fungus.

  • Myelitis

  • Inflammation of either the spinal cord or the bone marrow.

  • Myopathy

  • Progressive muscle weakness. Myopathy may arise as a toxic reaction to AZT or as a consequence of HIV infection itself.

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STD Terms

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