Thank you for your letter of August 12 but I only received it a few days ago. I find the issues and questions you pose quite
interesting. Unfortunately, I will only be able to give you my opinion based on what I have read and what I have heard communicated
to me by both patients and treating physicians.
I think the term AIDS cannot be avoided since it is already embedded in the medical literature, MEDLINE retrieval services
and so forth. To attempt to distinguish the 'AIDS virus' from the "XYZ" would not, it seems to me, serve any
useful purpose. Further, it may be too soon, or we may end up changing, the notion as to which infected people have or have
not developed the disease. Thus, I suspect the "XYZ virus" shortly would become synonymous with the "AIDS virus".
The last question posed regarding an eponym is even more interesting. I find it difficult to explain to patients that the
HTLV-III is named after a virus that causes leukemia or lymphoma when in fact that represents the problem in only a fraction
of patients with AIDS. Thus, a term such HARV (which I assume stands for Human AIDS Related Virus) might be more direct and
since it's only mentioned as related to AIDS, it might be more easily discussed with patients. Since descriptions and
discussions of the AIDS virus is (at least currently) a clinical - and social one, it will no doubt take time to best settle
on a name which will be 'respectfully pleasing' to as many people as possible.
In other words I think that the name eventually chosen for this retrovirus will finally become associated with the very severe
condition it causes, regardless of its name. Thank you for your questions and I remain