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The Harold Varmus Papers

Letter from Michael S. Gottlieb, University of California, Los Angeles School of Medicine to Harold Varmus pdf (79,668 Bytes) transcript of pdf
Letter from Michael S. Gottlieb, University of California, Los Angeles School of Medicine to Harold Varmus
Number of Image Pages:
1 (79,668 Bytes)
1985-04-25 (April 25, 1985)
Gottlieb, Michael S.
University of California, Los Angeles. School of Medicine
Varmus, Harold
Original Repository: University of California, San Francisco. Archives and Special Collections. Harold E. Varmus Papers
Reproduced with permission of Michael S. Gottlieb.
Medical Subject Headings (MeSH):
Terminology as Topic
Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome
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 25, 1985
Dear Dr. Varmus:
In 1981 I and my associates at UCLA first recognized and reported the syndrome which was subsequently named AIDS. I continue to work with patients with this disorder, and more recently with individuals in risk groups and in the general population who are found to have antibody to the retrovirus strongly implicated as the etiologic agent.
I am writing to convey my concerns as a clinician about sentiment for nomenclature which would identify the agent as the "AIDS virus." I believe that this nomenclature would be unfortunate. It is estimated that over one million persons in the U.S. alone have serum antibodies. The fully expressed AIDS syndrome is well publicized to be a lethal intractable illness associated with considerable suffering. In my view the term "AIDS virus" would create considerable distress among all individuals found to have previous exposure. In addition the term is imprecise since isolates have been found to be genetically diverse.
I am hopeful that your Study Group will also wish to avoid creating widespread social distress, and will see fit to designate the agent in accord with the remarkable amount of scientific information accumulated to date.
Michael S. Gottlieb, M.D.
Acting Chief
Division of Clinical Immunology
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