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January 24, 1986

Insect-Borne Transmission of AIDS

Author Affiliations

Veterans Administration Medical Center Denver

JAMA. 1986;255(4):463-464. doi:10.1001/jama.1986.03370040033008

To the Editor.—  Although Dr Drotman1 correctly downplays the current evidence for mosquito-borne transmission of the acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) in the United States, I believe that several pieces of information suggest a possible role for insect-borne spread in the tropics.2 That 50 of 75 serum samples collected from healthy children in the West Nile region of Uganda in 1973 had antibody to human T-cell lymphotropic virus type III (HTLV-III)3 indicates that transmission is wide-spread and may occur early in life; either heterosexual or homosexual transmission with subsequent vertical transmission is unlikely to account for such high prevalence of infection. Therefore, in contrast to Dr Drotman's assertion, HTLV-III infection may be common in preadolescent children. In a small study of HTLV-III antibody in healthy Zairians, 22% were positive and 29% had borderline results; all were immunologically normal.4 Even in the absence of follow-up data, it is reasonable