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October 25, 1985

Infectious Diseases

JAMA. 1985;254(16):2254-2257. doi:10.1001/jama.1985.03360160086016

Of all the remarkable developments in infectious disease over the past several years, the most awesome is the global spread of the acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS). Since the first cases of Pneumocystis carinii pneumonia and Kaposi's sarcoma were reported in young, previously healthy homosexual men in 1981,10,000 cases of AIDS in the United States had been reported to the Centers for Disease Control by April 30, 1985.1

The causal virus, referred to here as "AIDS virus," is a human retrovirus. Those isolates examined so far show considerable genomic heterogeneity, particularly in the region of the genome coding for surface antigens, raising concern that strain-to-strain surface-antigenic variations may make vaccine development difficult.2

Preliminary seroepidemiologic surveys conclude that the epidemiology of AIDS virus infection resembles that of AIDS itself. Among the well-known high-risk groups in the United States, the prevalence of antibody to AIDS virus is rising rapidly. However, AIDS