Thank you for soliciting my opinion on the best name for the AIDS retrovirus. Despite the concern by some scientists and
physicians that "AIDS" not be included in the name for the virus, I favor a simple, direct, informative name such
as AIDS retrovirus and ARV. Communications with patients about this virus requires, as your letter indicates, appropriate
reassurance that infection is not the same as disease. Names which obscure the relationship of this virus to AIDS do not promote
clear communications. We have used the terms AIDS retrovirus and ARV in San Diego for the past year and believe it has not
provoked unnecessary anxiety.
I find the acronyms "HTLVIII" and "LAV" confusing to the laymen and inappropriate on virological and clinical
grounds. The full names associated
with these acronyms are inconvenient and cumbersome in conversation or writing. Because "AIDS-related virus" understates
the strong evidence that ARV is the proximate cause of AIDS, I prefer "AIDS retrovirus".
I urge your committee to consider naming the virus either human AIDS retrovirus (HART) or more simply AIDS retrovirus (ARV)
and believe the lay and scientific community will find both the name and acronym useful.