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U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

Archival Content: 1999-2005

HIV Prevention Among Drug Users:
A Resource Book for Community Planners & Program Managers

Appendix C: Glossary

Appendix C provides definitions for terms and acronyms used in this document. Terms in quotation marks are slang or street terms.


Going without, fasting. Abstinence-based approaches to drug treatment stress the complete cessation of drug use.

Acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS)

The most serious form and final stage of HIV infection. AIDS is a severe collapse of the body's natural ability to fight off infection, and usually results in death. Most people infected with HIV develop AIDS within ten years. Since January 1993, all states and territories have been required to use the expanded AIDS surveillance case definition of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for reporting AIDS cases. The expanded CDC case definition can be found in the CDC MMWR Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report 1992 Dec 18;41(RR-17):1-19.


A process by which a drug solution is transferred from one syringe to another. The plunger is removed from the syringe into which the drug will be transferred and the drug mixture is then squirted into the back of the syringe. "Backloading" can be an indirect transmission route for HIV if the syringe or the drug solution is contaminated with HIV-infected blood.


A technique used by drug users to ensure that all of the drug in the syringe is injected. The user injects the drug into a vein, then pulls the plunger back several times, drawing blood into the syringe each time. The drug solution is then injected into the vein again. "Booting" results in a higher volume of residual blood in the syringe.


Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.


The Community Epidemiology Work Group.


A condition, such as drug dependence, for which there is no cure.

Closed networks

A network of individuals in which drug use takes place in private residences mainly among people who know each other. Members usually stay within social, cultural, economic, or geographic boundaries.

Confidentiality regulations

Federal, state, or local laws designed to protect the privacy of those receiving treatment for drug abuse, HIV, STDs, and general medical or mental health problems.


A spoon or bottle top in which heroin powder is mixed with water and sometimes heated before injection.


A piece of cotton or cigarette filter through which a drug solution is drawn. It removes undissolved particles that might clog a needle.


A relatively inexpensive, smokable, form of cocaine.

"Crack houses"

Places where crack users gather to purchase and smoke crack, exchange sex for crack or money to buy crack, or provide crack in exchange for sex. Depending on the geographic region, they are also known as "hit houses," "smoke houses," and "resorts."


A medically supervised program in which drug users are weaned from their physical dependence on drugs. Most detoxification programs are run on an inpatient basis. Detoxification is also referred to as "detox."

Direct sharing of syringes

This occurs when a person uses a syringe to inject a drug and then passes the syringe to another person, who in turn, uses it to inject drugs. This is an important potential transmission route for HIV.

"Drug sick"

A term describing the severe gastrointestinal distress, muscle cramping, and other flu-like symptoms associated with heroin withdrawal.


Drug treatment center.


A process in which the drug solution is transferred from one syringe to another. The needle on the syringe receiving the solution is removed and the drug solution is squirted into the syringe's hub or barrel. This is now relatively uncommon because most insulin syringes do not have removable needles. "Frontloading" can be an indirect transmission route for HIV if the syringe or drug solution is contaminated with HIV-infected blood.

Harm reduction strategies

An intervention approach that focuses on IDUs and their behaviors related to sharing injection equipment. Harm reduction acknowledges that drug users vary in their readiness and ability to abstain from drug use totally. This approach suggests that, based on the ways in which HIV is transmitted, some ways of engaging in drug use may be less prone to viral transmission than are others. Advocates of harm reduction propose multiple complementary solutions that operate simultaneously (e.g., substance abuse treatment, non injection of drugs, and providing sterile injection equipment and/or materials to disinfect used equipment). These strategies also are known as risk reduction strategies.

Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)

The retrovirus isolated and recognized as the agent that causes AIDS. Over time, HIV leads to the collapse of the body's immune system and onset of AIDS infections and conditions.


Injection drug user.

Indirect sharing of syringes

The process of preparing drugs for injection and dividing the portion among several users. One syringe may be used to prepare the drugs, although the syringe is not necessarily used by all the users to actually inject the drugs. HIV may be transmitted through this process through contamination of the syringe, the rinsing water, or the cotton.


A synthetic opiate used to limit discomforts associated with heroin withdrawal.


A three-to-four day crack binge during which the user often does not sleep or eat.


Men who have sex with men.


National Academy of Sciences.


National Institute on Drug Abuse, one of the agencies within the National Institutes of Health.


A term referring to the sleepiness associated with a heroin high.


National Research Council, an organization of the National Academy of Sciences.

Open networks

A network of drug users that is fairly relaxed in terms of its membership. Members may come from a variety of social, cultural, or geographic circles.


One of the major categories of drugs; results in physical and psychological dependence. Heroin is a prominent example.

Polydrug use

Use of more than one drug over a period of time or at any one specific time.


A technique for verifying whether a needle is in a vein. Once the needle is inserted, the user pulls back the syringe plunger before injecting the drug. If blood can be pulled into the syringe, it verifies that the point of the needle is in a vein.


A return to drug use after a period of quitting.


Small pieces of crack cocaine.


A person who purchases drugs for a group of users. Runners can be direct or indirect links for the transmission of HIV through their drug use or sexual behaviors.

"Set of works"

The equipment used to prepare and inject drugs.

"Shooting gallery"

A commercial establishment in which individuals gather to inject drugs or buy drugs; often situated in back rooms, basements, dark hallways, or abandoned buildings. Also known as "safe houses" or "get-off houses."

"Skin popping"

A drug use technique that involves injecting a drug under the skin rather than directly into a vein.


Injecting a drug by inhaling it; also called "sniffing."

Social networks

Groups of people linked by various types of relationships and common bonds.


A injectable combination of heroin and cocaine.


One of the major categories of drugs; results in physical and psychological dependence. Cocaine, crack, and amphetamines are prominent examples.


A physical state that develops when an increasing amount of a drug is needed to achieve the same desired effect, or when a markedly reduced effects occurs from the continued used of the same amount of a drug.


Situations, locations, or objects that prompt a desire to return to drug use once a person has stopped.


A term referring to the facial or body twitching that can occur during a crack high.


A smaller group of people within a larger social network.


Signs and symptoms typically experienced when a person stops using a drug on which he or she is physically dependent. Withdrawal symptoms can range from unpleasant to life-threatening, and include irritability, shakiness, and nausea.


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