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July 18, 1986

Prevention of HTLV-III Infection

JAMA. 1986;256(3):346-347. doi:10.1001/jama.1986.03380030048012

To the Editor.—  In the absence of effective therapy for infection with human T-cell lymphotropic virus type III (HTLV-III), efforts to contain the epidemic have by necessity focused on prevention. This has been accomplished by broad-based educational programs stressing "safe sex" and reduction in the number of sexual contacts. Studies reporting a decreased incidence of gonorrhea during the last few years suggest that these programs have been successful.1The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has recently recommended that voluntary testing for HTLV-III infection be offered and encouraged when members of high-risk groups present to health care providers.2 Careful consideration of this proposal raises a number of critical questions that need to be addressed before screening is initiated.Mayer et al3 and Groopman et al4 have recently reported seronegative HTLV-III-infected patients. The incidence of this phenomenon in asymptomatic high-risk populations and in those with symptoms is unknown