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May 5, 1989

Renaming AIDS: 'Retroviral Immunodeficiency'?

Author Affiliations

University of Montreal (Canada)

University of Montreal (Canada)

JAMA. 1989;261(17):2503. doi:10.1001/jama.1989.03420170045022

To the Editor.—  The acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) was given its current designation at a time when little was known about the disease. I submit that, in light of current knowledge, this designation has become so grossly inappropriate as to need replacement.A syndrome is "the aggregate of signs and symptoms associated with any morbid process, and constituting together the picture of the disease."1 The word "AIDS," as generally used, clearly does not mean the picture of the disease, it means the disease itself. Furthermore, although infection by the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) can take the form of several syndromes, the manifestations of the full-blown disease are far too varied to be considered usefully as one syndrome.The qualifier "acquired" ("denoting a disease... that is not congenital but has developed after birth"1) also has become obsolete since we know that the causative agent is not merely nongenetic but