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November 7, 1986

Seronegative 18 Months After Being Bitten by a Patient With AIDS

JAMA. 1986;256(17):2342-2343. doi:10.1001/jama.1986.03380170058010

To the Editor.—  Human T-cell lymphotropic virus type III (HTLV-III) has been isolated from the saliva of patients with acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) and patients with AIDS-related complex (ARC).1,2 This virus has also been recovered from the saliva of healthy homosexual men, raising concern among health care workers, especially dentists and dental hygienists.1,2 Recent data suggest that virus-positive saliva may be a quite infrequent occurrence in these populations. Ho and colleagues,3 using a careful culture technique, were able to isolate HTLV-III in only one of 71 seropositive homosexual men, 51 of whom had either AIDS or ARC.The low rate of seropositivity among spouses and children and the apparent lack of transmission by oral-genital contact further indicate that saliva is not likely to transmit the infection.4,5 Two nurses who participated in mouth-to-mouth resuscitation of a patient with ARC remain seronegative nine months after exposure.6 I