October 18, 1985

HTLV-III Transmission

Author Affiliations

Lifetime Medical Television Los Angeles

JAMA. 1985;254(15):2130-2131. doi:10.1001/jama.1985.03360150106037

It comes as a relief to all and a surprise to almost none that nosocomial human T-cell lymphotropic virus type III (HTLV-III) infection is rare. Although the virus has been isolated from fluids such as blood, semen, saliva, urine, and tears, the careful study by Weiss and colleagues1 suggests that for health care workers exposed on a regular basis to patients with acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) and their secretions, the risk of infection was very low. For persons with parenteral exposure to these patients the risk was also low, but was demonstrably present. From the concern being voiced in many circles today, one might have assumed that HTLV-III is airborne. It isn't. It's transmitted much like hepatitis B, and similar precautions for preventing transmission should be successful.

The virus itself is far from indestructible. It is inactivated by high and low pH and by exposure to a temperature of