Thanks for your letter about the inevitable problems over the nomenclature of human leukemia viruses. Personally I share your
view that a broad category of human retroviruses should be established, as has been done for other animal species; I would
prefer to abbreviate this class as HuLV to maintain a clear distinction from hamster viruses (HaLVs). I agree that the isolates
to date should be kept distinct unless they can be shown to be identical (an unlikely prospect); the precedents for (and wisdom
of) maintaining such distinctions are obvious within and outside retrovirology. The need to establish a general category might
be greater if there were other entries, as I expect will ultimately be the case. It would be premature, in my view, to start
naming endogenous HuLV'S based solely upon isolation of endogenous proviral-like elements, unless some of these prove
to be infectious, with or without helper.
I think it would be sensible to name a sub-committee within the Retrovirus Study Group to consider this issue further and
come up with a proposal. I would suggest that Natalie Teich chair the subcommittee and that you, Hinuma, Gallo, and Oroszlan
Let me know what you think of this, and I will then contact the potential members of this subcommittee.