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January 11, 1985

Perspectives on the Future of AIDS

JAMA. 1985;253(2):247-249. doi:10.1001/jama.1985.03350260099036

In the relatively short span of three years, over 7,000 cases of the acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) have been diagnosed in the United States2 Preliminary surveillance reports also estimate over 500 cases in the rest of the Americas, 600 in Europe, and several thousand cases in central Africa.3 With a mortality rate that, two years from diagnosis, exceeds 80%, this illness now ranks as one of the most serious epidemics confronting man in modern time.

Medical scientists were recently rewarded with the recovery of a type C human retrovirus from AIDS patients and patients with prodromal signs and symptoms of AIDS.4,5 While this retrovirus, referred to as "human T-cell lymphotropic virus" (HTLV-III) or "lymphadenopathy-associated virus" (LAV), has not been definitively proved to be the etiologic agent of AIDS, all available evidence strongly supports its causal role. The virus has been cultured from lymphocytes, lymph nodes, semen, and saliva