Skip directly to search Skip directly to A to Z list Skip directly to navigation Skip directly to site content Skip directly to page options
CDC Home

Self-Study STD Modules for Clinicians


adenoma – a benign tumor that arises in or resembles glandular tissue

adnexal - relating to conjoined, subordinate, or associated anatomic parts

alopecia - loss of hair

anaerobes - organisms living, acting, occurring, or existing in the absence of free oxygen

anemia - a condition in which the blood is deficient in red blood cells, in hemoglobin, or in total volume

aneurysm - a permanent abnormal blood-filled dilation of a blood vessel resulting from disease of the vessel wall

anoscopy – visual examination of the anal canal with an anoscope

antigen - a substance capable of stimulating an immune response

aortic insufficiency - leakage of blood from the aorta back into the left ventricle during diastole because of failure of an aortic valve to close properly

aortitis - inflammation of the aorta

arthralgias - severe pain in joints, especially one not inflammatory in nature

arthritis - inflammation of joints

aseptic meningitis – inflammation of any of the three membranes that envelop the brain and spinal cord and include the arachnoid, dura mater, and pia mater

atrophic vaginitis - inflammation of the vagina with thinning of the epithelial lining that occurs following menopause and is due to a deficiency of estrogen

autoinoculation - a secondary infection originating from an infection already present in the body

autologous - taken from an individual's own tissues, cells, or DNA

bacteremia - the usually transient presence of bacteria in the blood

balanitis - inflammation of the glans penis or glans clitoris

Bartholin's glands - either of two oval glands lying one to each side of the lower part of the vagina and secreting a lubricating mucus

basal cells – innermost cells of the deeper epidermis of the skin

basilar meningitis - inflammation of the meninges at the base of the brain

binary fission - a splitting or breaking up into two parts

biopsy – the removal and examination of tissue, cells, or fluids from the living body

bullous - resembling or characterized by a large vesicle or blister

carcinoma – a malignant tumor of epithelial origin

CD4 count - a test to measure the number of CD4 cells (a type of lymphocyte) per cubic mm of blood. This test is done to monitor the course of HIV infection and response to treatment.

cellularity - the degree, quality, or condition of cells which are present

cervical ectopy - cervical immaturity

cervicitis - inflammation of the uterine cervix

chemosis - an abnormal infiltration and excess accumulation of serous fluid of the bulbar conjunctive, forming a swelling around the cornea

chorioamnionitis - inflammation of the fetal membranes

circinate balanitis - a ring-shaped inflammation of the glans penis or the glans clitoris

colposcopy – a procedure in which a lighted magnifying instrument (colposcope) is used to examine the tissues of the vagina and the cervix

conjunctivitis - inflammation of the conjunctiva

convalescence - the time between the subsidence of a disease and complete restoration to health

coronary ostial stenosis - a narrowing or constriction of the diameter of the opening of coronary arteries or veins of the heart

cross reacting antibody - antibodies which don't respond to any one specific antigen, but will respond to a number of them. Can be responsible for false positive results in antigen-antibody tests.

cryoprobe – a blunt chilled instrument used to freeze tissues in cryosurgery

cryotherapy - the therapeutic use of cold

cunnilingus – oral stimulation of the vulva or clitoris

curettage – a surgical scraping or cleaning by means of a curette (a scoop, loop, or ring used in this process)

cystitis – inflammation of the urinary bladder

defervescence - the subsidence of a fever

desensitize - to make (a sensitized or hypersensitive individual) insensitive or nonreactive to a sensitizing agent

direct medical costs - dollars spent within the health care system treating a disease and its complications. Direct medical costs do not include nonmedical indirect costs such as lost wages or productivity.

disseminated infection – infection that has spread throughout the body

dyspareunia - the occurrence of pain during sexual intercourse

dysplasia – abnormal growth or development (as of organs or cells)

dysuria - difficult or painful urination

electrosurgery – use of a heat-generating electrical device to burn or vaporize tissue in order to remove it and minimize and halt bleeding

endocarditis - inflammation of the lining of the heart and its valves

endometritis – inflammation of the endometrium

ectopic pregnancy - pregnancy occurring elsewhere than the cavity of the uterus (as in the fallopian tube or in the peritoneal cavity)

ectopy - an area of the cervix lined by columnar, rather than squamous, epithelium

encephalitis – inflammation of the brain

endarteritis - inflammation of the inner layer of one or more arteries

endometritis - inflammation of the endometrium

epididymitis - inflammation of the epididymis

erythema - inflammatory redness of the skin

etiologic agent - the causative agent of a disease condition; often a microorganism or toxin

exudate - any fluid that has exuded out of a tissue or its capillaries, more specifically because of injury or inflammation

exudative - of or relating to exuding matter

false negative - relating to or being an individual or test result that is erroneously classified in a negative category (as of diagnosis) because of imperfect testing methods and procedures

false positive - relating to or being an individual or test result that is erroneously classified in a positive category (as of diagnosis) because of imperfect testing methods and procedures

fellatio - oral stimulation of the penis

fistula - an abnormal passage leading from an abscess or hollow organ to the body surface or from one hollow organ to another and permitting passage of fluids or secretions

friability - area that is easily destroyed; fragile

fomites - inanimate objects such as environmental surfaces and clothing

ganglionic latency – the period of living or developing in a mass of nerve tissue without producing symptoms

Gram stain – a method for the differential staining of bacteria by treatment with a watery solution of iodine and the iodine of potassium after staining with a triphenylmethane

Gram-negative bacteria - bacteria that do not hold the purple dye when treated with the Gram stain

Gram-positive bacteria - bacteria that hold the purple dye when treated with the Gram stain

gummatous lesion - a tumor of gummy or rubbery consistency that is characteristic of the tertiary stage of syphilis

hematogenous - taking place by way of blood

hematuria – the presence of blood or blood cells in the urine

hepatitis – inflammation of the liver

hepatosplenomegaly - enlargement of the liver and spleen

herpetic whitlow – a deep, usually suppurative inflammation of the finger or toe especially near the end or around the nail

heterologous - Derived from a separate genetic source or species

Hutchinson incisors - screwdriver-shaped central incisors seen in congenital syphilis

hyperemia - excess of blood in a body part

hyperplasia – an abnormal or unusual increase in the elements composing a part (as tissue cells)

hypertrophic pyloric stenosis - muscular increase in bulk of the pyloric sphincter (opening of the stomach to the intestine), associated with projectile vomiting appearing in the second or third week of life, usually in males

incidence - new cases diagnosed within a specific time period

incubation period - the period between the infection of an individual by a pathogen and the manifestation of the disease it causes

indurated – having become firm or hard, especially by increase of fibrous elements

infertility - diminished or absent capability of growing or developing a fetus to full term

interstitial keratitis - a chronic progressive keratitis of the corneal stroma often resulting in blindness and frequently associated with congenital syphilis

intertriginous - an area where opposing skin surfaces touch and may rub, such as skin folds of the groin, axilla, and breasts

in vitro - outside the living body and in an artificial environment

iritis - inflammation of the iris of the eye

keratoderma blenorrhagica - a generalized thickening of a horny layer of the epidermis with any mucus discharge, especially from the urethra or vagina

koilocytosis – cell changes caused by HPV which are characterized by non-precancerous cells with little halos around the nuclei

leukorrhea – discharge of white mucous material from the vagina; often an indication of infection

lichen planus – a skin disease characterized by an eruption of wide flat papules covered by a horny glazed film, marked by intense itching, and often accompanied by lesions on the oral mucosa

lichen sclerosis – a benign abnormality of the skin of the vulva characterized by marked thinning of the skin; often causes the skin to be itchy, in which secondary infection can be caused from tearing the skin from scratching

lichen simplex chronicus – thickening of the skin that arises secondarily to repetitive scratching or rubbing when a person senses itching in a specific area of skin

lymphadenitis - inflammation of a lymph node

lymphadenopathy - enlargement of the lymph nodes

macular - of, relating to, or characterized by a spot or spots

malaise - an indefinite feeling of debility or illness often indicative of or accompanying onset of an illness

melanocytic nevus – a congenital pigmented area on the skin characterized by the presence of epidermal cells that produce melanin

meningismus - a state of meningeal irritation with symptoms suggesting meningitis that often occurs at the onset of acute febrile diseases, especially in children

meningitis - inflammation of any of the three membranes that envelop the brain and spinal cord

microaerophilic - requiring very little free oxygen

mucopurulent - any fluid that has exuded out of a tissue or its capillaries because of injury or inflammation that contains pus and conspicuous proportions of mucous material

mucopurulent cervicitis – inflammation of the uterine cervix which has both mucus and pus discharge

mulberry molar - a first molar tooth whose occlusal surface is pitted due to congenital syphilis with nodules replacing the cusps

multiparous - having had more than one pregnancy

myalgia – pain in one or more muscles

myocarditis - inflammation of the middle muscular layer of the heart wall

neoplasia – the process of tumor formation

oligoarthritis - a few joints (typically fewer than five) affected by inflammation usually affecting large joints exclusively in the knees and ankles

oncogenic potential - ability to cause cervical cancer

osteitis - inflammation of bone

osteochondritis - inflammation of bone and cartilage

ovulation - the discharge of a mature ovum form the ovary

papules, papular - consisting of or characterized by small solid usually conical elevations of the skin caused by inflammation, accumulated secretion, or hypertrophy of tissue elements

paraspinous ganglia – a mass of nerve tissues containing nerve cells lying adjacent to the spinal column

paresis - slight or partial paralysis

perinatal – concerned with the period around the time of birth (beginning around the 28th week of pregnancy through 28 days following birth)

peritonitis - inflammation of the peritoneum

pharyngeal - relating to or located or produced in the region of the vertebrate alimentary canal between the cavity of the mouth and esophagus

pneumonitis – a disease characterized by inflammation of the lungs especially in patchy distribution

polymicrobial - concerning a number of species of organisms

polyp - a mass of tissue that develops on the inside wall of a hollow organ, such as in the colon

positive predictive value - the percentage of people with a positive test result who actually have the disease. Positive predictive value = true positives / (true positives + false positives)

presumptive treatment - treatment rendered for the prevention of disease in individuals who are likely to be infected, particularly in the case of suggestive clinical findings, unknown follow up, and/or exposure to disease

prevalence - the percentage of the population that is affected with a particular disease at a given time

proctitis - inflammation of the anus and rectum

prodrome, prodromal – a symptom indicative of approaching disease

productive – an infection involving active viral shedding

prophylaxis - treatment rendered for the prevention of disease in individuals who are likely to be infected, particularly in the case of suggestive clinical findings, unknown follow up, and/or exposure to disease

prostatitis – inflammation of the prostate gland

pruritis - itching

purulent - containing, consisting of, or being pus

pustular - of or relating to small, often distinctively colored elevations or spots resembling blisters or pimples

pustules – small, circumscribed elevations of the skin containing pus and having an inflamed base

reepithelialization - restoration of epithelium over a denuded area by natural growth

resistance - the capacity of a species or strain of microorganism to survive exposure to a toxic agent (as a drug) formerly effective against it

respiratory papillomatosis – a condition marked by the presence of numerous benign tumors (as a wart or condyloma) within the respiratory tract

ribosome - any of the RNA-rich cytoplasmic granules that are sites of protein synthesis

saber shin - a tibia that has a pronounced anterior convexity resembling the curve of a saber and caused by congenital syphilis

sacral ganglia – a mass of nerve tissues lying near the part of the spinal column that is directly connected with or forms part of the pelvis

salpingitis - inflammation of a fallopian tube

seborrheic keratosis – a disease of the skin marked by overgrowth of horny tissue characterized by abnormally increased secretion and discharge of sebum producing an oily appearance of the skin and the formation of greasy scales

sensitivity - the likelihood a test will be positive when disease is present. If 100 infected people are tested and test results are positive for 85, the sensitivity is 85% (85/100).

sequelae - aftereffects of disease or injury

seroconversion - the development of detectable antibodies in the blood directed against an infectious agent

serologic - of, relating to, or employing the methods of science dealing with serums and especially their reactions and properties

Skene’s glands - glands on each side of the urethral opening

specificity - the likelihood a test will be negative when disease is not present. If 100 non-infected people are tested and test results are negative for 99, the specificity is 99% (99/100)

splenomegaly - abnormal enlargement of the spleen

squamous - covered with or consisting of scales

stricture – an abnormal narrowing of a bodily passage (as from inflammation, cancer, or the formation of scar tissue)

syndrome - a group of signs and symptoms that occur together and characterize a particular abnormality

tabes dorsalis - a condition that results from the destruction of the dorsal columns in the spinal cord, normally responsible for position sense. Loss of position sense causes severe gait and leg ataxia (balance and motor control problems)

tenesmus - a painful spasm of the anal sphincter

tenosynovitis - inflammation of a tendon and its enveloping sheath

teratogenicity - of, relating to, or causing developmental malformations

thrombocytopenia - persistent decrease in the number of blood platelets that is usually associated with hemorrhagic conditions

transplacentally - relating to, involving, or being passage (as of an antibody) between mother and fetus through the placenta

ulcer - a break in skin or mucous membrane with loss of surface tissue, disintegration and necrosis of epithelial tissue, and often pus

urethritis - inflammation of the urethra

vertical transmission - relating to or being transmission (as of a disease) by genetic inheritance or by a congenital or perinatal route

vesicle - a small abnormal elevation of the outer layer of skin enclosing a watery liquid

vulvovaginitis - coincident inflammation of the vulva and vagina














Contact Us:
Comments or questions about the STD curriculum modules? We welcome your feedback. E-mail us at:

For other inquiries, please contact:
  • Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
    1600 Clifton Rd
    Atlanta, GA 30333
  • 800-CDC-INFO
    TTY: (888) 232-6348
  • Contact CDC-INFO The U.S. Government's Official Web PortalDepartment of Health and Human Services
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention   1600 Clifton Road Atlanta, GA 30329-4027, USA
800-CDC-INFO (800-232-4636) TTY: (888) 232-6348 - Contact CDC–INFO
A-Z Index
  1. A
  2. B
  3. C
  4. D
  5. E
  6. F
  7. G
  8. H
  9. I
  10. J
  11. K
  12. L
  13. M
  14. N
  15. O
  16. P
  17. Q
  18. R
  19. S
  20. T
  21. U
  22. V
  23. W
  24. X
  25. Y
  26. Z
  27. #