Thank you for your letter of April 26 concerning the species name for the retrovirus isolates associated with the acquired
immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS). I am well aware of all the difficulties and the emotional issues that are interjected into
this vis-a-vis who will get more credit related to the name that is chosen. I will try to disassociate myself from any of
that and give you as an objective a viewpoint as I possibly can concerning the nomenclature. I am sure that there is going
to be no name that does not have disadvantages. However, I believe that there are some names which should be avoided.
In the first place, despite the fact that Luc Montagnier has indeed made the initial discovery that this retrovirus is related
to AIDS-related complexes (ARC) since he isolated it from a patient with the lymphadenopathy syndrome, I do believe that it
would be inappropriate to call this the lymphadenopathy-associated virus (LAV). The reasons for this, I believe, should be
obvious. First, the virus causes more than lymphadenopathy. In addition, the lymphadenopathy in fact is not directly due
to infection of lymph node cells by the virus. As I am sure you are aware, there are very few cells containing the retrovirus
which are found in lymph nodes of patients with LAV. Therefore, to call it LAV alone I think would be inappropriate.
The next problem relates to whether it should be called the AIDS retrovirus. I, myself, probably call it the AIDS retrovirus
more than I call it anything else, primarily because I deal exclusively with AIDS patients who have this retrovirus. However,
taking into account the fact that there will be literally hundreds of thousands of individuals who are infected with this
virus, many of whom may not contract AIDS, I believe that it would be inappropriate and very anxiety-producing to name this
virus the AIDS retrovirus since this would surely cause problems in patient-physician relationships. Therefore, although
I feel that for AIDS patients calling it the AIDS retrovirus would be appropriate, for general nomenclature I believe that
it would not be appropriate. For this reason I would reject that proposition. Finally, we get to whether or not we can call
it HTLV-III. Although there are accumulating data, of which you are as aware or more aware than I am, that there are significant
dissimilarities between this virus and HTLV-I and -II, I still believe there is enough reason to maintain this virus within
the HTLV nomenclature that this should be continued. The reasons for this are that it surely is a human virus (H), it is
a T-lymphotrophic virus (TL), and it is a virus (V). Therefore, I would think that HTLV itself is a reasonable abbreviation
for the virus. For that reason I would suggest naming it either HTLV-III alone or HTLV-III/LAV. However, for the reasons
given above concerning the disadvantage of using the terminology LAV, I would elect to call it HTLV-III.
I hope that my comments have been helpful to you, and I hope that your group gets this resolved satisfactorily. Thank you
for giving me the opportunity to express my views. Best personal regards.
Anthony S. Fauci, M.D.
National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases