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Adv Exp Med Biol. 1985;187:13-34.

Etiology of AIDS: biological and biochemical characteristics of HTLV-III.


The newly identified human HTLV-III virus, the etiologic agent for AIDS, shares many of the biological and physicochemical properties common to a family of retroviruses named human T-cell leukemia (lymphotropic) viruses, or HTLV. Because of the similarities, and because of the uniform nomenclature for human T-cell leukemia (lymphotropic) viruses adopted at the first Cold Spring Harbor Meeting on HTLV (19, 79), this newly discovered virus associated with AIDS as HTLV-III was named HTLV-III. Other investigators making independent isolations of virus have suggested naming the virus lymphadenopathy virus or LAV (3, 16), immunodeficiency associated virus or IADV (48), AIDS-related virus (41). Immunological and nucleic acid comparison has now demonstrated that these viruses are, not surprisingly, very similar to HTLV-III (55, 63, 78). In view of the wide range of disease manifestations caused by the virus, and previous discussions concerning a uniform nomenclature for human T-lymphotropic retroviruses, it would seem ill-advised to restrict the name of this virus to one clinical manifestation of one disease. The frequent isolation of HTLV-III from patients with AIDS and ARC, the detection of antibodies specific for HTLV-III in nearly all patients with these diseases and in a high proportion of individuals at risk, and finally its effect on cells in vitro, leaves little doubt that HTLV-III is causatively involved in the development of these diseases. This etiologic association is further strengthened by the detection of HTLV-III infection in many instances where a direct cause-and-effect association can be made, e.g., hemophiliacs and children with AIDS, and blood from HTLV-III infected donors and the otherwise normal recipients of this blood who subsequently develop AIDS.

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