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The Harold Varmus Papers

Letter from Brian Willoughby to Harold Varmus pdf (54,481 Bytes) transcript of pdf
Letter from Brian Willoughby to Harold Varmus
Number of Image Pages:
1 (54,481 Bytes)
1985-08-30 (August 30, 1985)
Willoughby, Brian
Varmus, Harold
Original Repository: University of California, San Francisco. Archives and Special Collections. Harold E. Varmus Papers
Reproduced with permission of Brian Willoughby.
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
August 30, 1985
Dear Dr. Varmus,
Thank you for your letter of August 12, 1985, which I just received this week. I have given your questions some thought, and have discussed with colleagues in our hospital AIDS Care Group.
It is both my personal opinion and was our group consensus as follows:
Question #1. No. The term AIDS is not to be avoided at all costs.
Question #2. The use of any euphemism such as XYZ virus is misleading in a taxonomic sense, and would be unlikely to affect any significant reduction in anxiety for individuals affected by it.
Question #3. Yes, the euphemism, even though it may be misleading, will be equated with AIDS and hence not produce the desired reduction of anxiety.
Question #4. Eponyms are ubiquitous in medicine, with many now understood by the lay public. I would expect that your committee may well recommend a name which contains more than one word and hence may be reduced to an eponym in practical usage. This is quite acceptable.
I hope this addresses the issues you wish. I look forward to the result of your deliberations as the present heterogeneity of terms does produce confusion for some people.
Yours sincerely,
Brian C. Willoughby, M.D., CCFP
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