Acquired immunodeficiency syndrome – Definition & Meaning

Acquired immunodeficiency syndrome, commonly known as AIDS, is a chronic and potentially fatal condition caused by the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). The virus attacks the immune system, making it difficult for the body to fight off infections and diseases. AIDS has been a major public health concern since its emergence in the 1980s, and while there have been significant advancements in treatment and prevention, it remains a global pandemic.


Acquired immunodeficiency syndrome is defined as a condition in which the immune system is severely weakened, leaving the body vulnerable to opportunistic infections and cancers. It is caused by the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), which attacks and destroys the cells of the immune system.


AIDS was first recognized in the United States in the early 1980s, but it is believed to have originated in Africa in the late 1970s. The virus is thought to have been transmitted from chimpanzees to humans through the hunting and consumption of bushmeat.

Meaning in different dictionaries

According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, acquired immunodeficiency syndrome is “a disease of the human immune system that is characterized cytologically especially by reduction in the numbers of CD4-bearing helper T cells to 20 percent or less of normal thereby rendering the subject highly vulnerable to life-threatening conditions (as Pneumocystis carinii pneumonia) and to some (as Kaposi’s sarcoma) that become life-threatening.”


AIDS is often associated with high-risk behaviors such as unprotected sex, intravenous drug use, and blood transfusions. It is also associated with stigma and discrimination, particularly towards marginalized communities such as LGBTQ+ individuals and people living with HIV.


Some synonyms for acquired immunodeficiency syndrome include HIV/AIDS, AIDS syndrome, and acquired immune deficiency syndrome.


As a medical condition, there are no true antonyms for acquired immunodeficiency syndrome. However, some antonyms for the associated stigma and discrimination include acceptance, tolerance, and inclusion.

The same root words

The root words of acquired immunodeficiency syndrome are “acquired,” meaning obtained or developed, “immunodeficiency,” meaning a weakened immune system, and “syndrome,” meaning a collection of symptoms or conditions.

Example Sentences

  • “He was diagnosed with acquired immunodeficiency syndrome after testing positive for HIV.”
  • “AIDS activists have been fighting for better access to treatment and an end to stigma and discrimination.”
  • “The global community has made significant progress in the fight against AIDS, but there is still much work to be done.”
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