Glossary: Population-specific status report: HIV/AIDS and other sexually transmitted and blood borne infections among youth in Canada


Aboriginal Peoples
Refers to First Nations, Inuit and Métis as recognized under the Constitution Act, 1982. These are distinct populations with unique cultural, linguistic, geographic and historic characteristics.
Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome (AIDS)
A condition that describes an advanced stage of HIV infection involving significant loss of white blood cells (CD4 cells) and cancers or infections that result from immune system damage. An AIDS diagnosis is made if a person living with HIV is diagnosed with one or more of the clinical conditions characterized as "AIDS-defining illnesses." Antiretroviral therapy can suppress the HIV virus and slow the progression of the disease. Like HIV, there is no known cure for AIDS.
A person who has a physical and emotional attraction to both males and females.
Casual sex partner
A person with whom an individual had or has occasional sexual activity.
An important element of one’s identity that includes shared symbols, behaviours, practices, values and attitudes.  It is shaped by historical, socio-economic and political contexts, by power relations within and between groups and by institutionalized attitudes and practices that result.
Refers to a set of qualities, attributes, behaviours and roles that are socially associated and considered appropriate for girls and women. Femininity is made up of both socially defined and biologically created factors.
First Nations
A term which usually refers to both Status and Non-Status Indians. First Nations are one of the three recognized Aboriginal Peoples in Canada, along with Métis and Inuit.
A person who is physically and emotionally attracted to members of the same sex. The word ‘gay’ can refer to both males and females, but is commonly used to refer to males only.
The array of socially determined roles, personality traits, attitudes, behaviours, values, relative power and influence that society ascribes to the two sexes on a differential basis. Gender is distinct from biological sex.
Gender identity
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 norms or roles
Refers to the set of social and behavioural norms that are considered to be traditionally and socially appropriate for individuals of a specific sex in the context of a specific culture. Norms differ widely between cultures and over time.
Refers to individuals whose expressions of gender do not conform to the dominant and socially ascribed gender norms of masculinity and femininity for men and women.
Hepatitis C virus (HCV)
A virus that infects the liver. Prolonged and acute hepatitis C infection can often result in liver disease and cirrhosis. The virus is transmitted largely by blood transfusion or percutaneous inoculation, such as needle sharing among people who inject drugs.
The assumption that everyone is or should be heterosexual and that this sexual orientation is superior. Heterosexism is often the belief system that underlies homophobia.
Fear or hatred of people who are attracted to those of the same sex (homosexuals).  This is often expressed through prejudice, discrimination, intimidation or acts of violence.
Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)
The virus that causes AIDS. This virus is passed from one person to another through blood-to-blood, unprotected vaginal and/or anal sex and from mother-to-child through pregnancy, delivery or breast-feeding. HIV attacks the immune system, resulting in a chronic progressive illness that leaves people vulnerable to opportunistic infections and cancers. There is no known cure or vaccine for HIV, but for most people, the virus can be managed through daily doses of antiretroviral medication. In the absence of treatment with antiretroviral medication, HIV infection will progress to AIDS.
A person residing in Canada who was born outside of Canada, excluding temporary foreign workers, Canadian citizens born outside of Canada and those with student or working visas.
Injection drug use (IDU)
An epidemiological classification for HIV transmission among people who use injection drugs.
Canada’s Aboriginal people of the Arctic. Inuit are one of the three recognized Aboriginal Peoples in Canada, along with the First Nations and Métis.
A female who is attracted physically and emotionally to other females.
Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, transsexual, two-spirit and queer (LGBTTQ)
A commonly used acronym for the constellation of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, transsexual, two-spirit, and queer identities. The term “sexually diverse and gender-variant youth” is used in this document as it encompasses youth expressing a LGBTTQ identity, youth questioning and/or exploring their sexual identity/orientation and youth expressing a gender identity that does not conform with the socially ascribed gender norms of their biological sex.
Refers to a set of qualities, attributes, behaviours and roles socially associated and considered appropriate for boys and men. Masculinity is made up of both socially defined and biologically created factors. This makes it distinct from the simple definition of the biological male sex, as men, women, and transgender people can all exhibit so-called masculine traits.
Men who have sex with men (MSM)
An epidemiological classification for HIV transmission.
One of the three recognized Aboriginal Peoples of Canada, along with First Nations and Inuit. Métis are people of mixed Aboriginal and European ancestry.
A recent landed immigrant who has been in Canada for five years or less.
Risk factor
A factor associated with increased chance of getting a disease or infection. It may be a causal determinant or simply a risk marker. Factors associated with decreased risk are known as protective factors.
The set of beliefs that one can perform adequately in a particular situation.
Refers to the biological characteristics that generally distinguish males and females. Biological differences include such things as anatomy, genetics, hormones, metabolism and physiology. Sex is distinct from gender.
Sexual health
A state of physical, mental and social wellbeing in relation to sexuality. It is not merely the absence of sexually transmitted infections or sexual dysfunction. It also includes 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.
Sexual orientation
Made up of a person’s sexual identity, emotional or sexual attraction to others, and preferred sexual partners.
Sexually transmitted and blood borne infections (STBBIs)
A group of infections that spread from one person to another through sexual contact or contact with blood or blood products (e.g., sharing needles). Sexual contact includes vaginal, anal or oral sex, and sometimes skin-to-skin contact. Transmission can also occur from mother to child during pregnancy and childbirth.
Sex work
The exchange of sexual services for money or other goods or services (e.g., food, shelter).
Socio-economic status
A person or group’s relative position within a social hierarchy. Socio-economic status is determined by such indicators as education, employment and income.
Street-involved youth
Youth experiencing unstable housing and hidden homelessness, meaning that they have no permanent dwelling but make use of a range of transitional living arrangements. The term “street-involved youth” is used in this document to encompass the large range of living arrangements that street involvement youth might experience, from living with their parents but being engaged on the street to being without any shelter at all.
A person whose gender identity, outward appearance, expression and/or anatomy do not fit with their gender assigned at birth.
Refers to the fear and/or hatred of transgender individuals and is exhibited by prejudice, discrimination, intimidation, or acts of violence.
Two-spirit people are able to understand both male and female viewpoints. They can also assume the sexual identity and be granted the social status of the opposite sex. Some Aboriginal cultures may give two-spirit people respect and special status as leaders or medicine people.
Report a problem or mistake on this page
Please select all that apply:

Thank you for your help!

You will not receive a reply. For enquiries, contact us.

Date modified: