Skip to main contentU.S. National Library of MedicineU.S. National Library of Medicine

Profiles in Science
Pinterest badge Follow Profiles in Science on Pinterest!

The Harold Varmus Papers

Letter from Martin S. Hirsch, Massachusetts General Hospital to Max Essex, Harvard School of Public Health pdf (66,491 Bytes) transcript of pdf
Letter from Martin S. Hirsch, Massachusetts General Hospital to Max Essex, Harvard School of Public Health
Number of Image Pages:
1 (66,491 Bytes)
1985-04-19 (April 19, 1985)
Hirsch, Martin S.
Massachusetts General Hospital
Essex, Max
Harvard School of Public Health
Original Repository: University of California, San Francisco. Archives and Special Collections. Harold E. Varmus Papers
Reproduced with permission of Martin S. Hirsch.
Medical Subject Headings (MeSH):
Terminology as Topic
Exhibit Category:
AIDS and HIV: Science, Politics, and Controversy, 1981-1993
Box Number: 2
Folder Number: 14
Unique Identifier:
Document Type:
Letters (correspondence)
Physical Condition:
Series: UCSF Collections
SubSeries: Collection Number MSS 88-47
SubSubSeries: Human Retrovirus Study Group, 1981-1987
Folder: HIV clinical opinions on the naming of the virus, 1985
April 19, 1985
Dear Max:
Thanks for your letter requesting opinions regarding human retrovirus terminology. To me, the most sensible approach would be to call the three identified viruses Human Retroviruses 1, 2, and 3. The reasons for this are many:
1. It would allow subsequent retroviruses to be sequentially named and avoid the nonsense that has occurred with other viruses. For example Coxsackie and ECHO viruses, ridiculous names, have now been replaced by enterovirus 69, 70, etc.
2. Current names are all unsatisfactory. None of the three isolated viruses is completely T-lymphotropic (HTLV-I replicates in endothelial cells, HTLV-III replicates in monocytes, certain B cells, and CNS cells of undefined types). LAV is totally inappropriate and ARV is unnecessarily pejorative. The virus can apparently cause many other syndromes in addition to AIDS (acute mono syndrome, thrombocytopenia, encephalopathy), thus ARV is inappropriate.
3. It would avoid priority claims. All know that both the Gallo and Montagnier groups deserve great credit, so why bother with a nomenclature conflict? Without doubt the worst solution of all would be the compromise HTLV-III/LAV.
I don't see any reasons not to use the HRV 1, 2, 3, terminology, and many reasons why it is preferable to other suggestions. I hope these opinions are helpful. Best wishes.
Sincerely yours,
Martin S. Hirsch, M.D.
Metadata Last Modified Date:
Linked Data:
RDF/XML     JSON     JSON-LD     N3/Turtle     N-Triples