Please forgive the delay in my reply to your letter of August 12.
As to the naming of the AIDS retrovirus, I agree with you that political issues as well as scientific ones will ultimately
decide the outcome. Most of my patients refer to this virus as either "the AIDS virus" or as "HTLV-III" or
some alphabetic permutation of same. I refer to it as "HTLV-III" in conversation, and as "HTLV-III/LAV" when
I write for publication.
I like the name "HTLV-III" because it does not directly connect the virus to AIDS: it is less traumatic to tell an
asymptomatic patient that he has a positive HTLV-III antibody test than to tell him he has a positive AIDS-virus antibody
test. Due to the unsettled taxonomic position of this virus, I understand that placing the virus in the family of human T
cell leukemia viruses may ultimately not be justified. I would hope that the name eventually chosen would be emotionally
neutral (i.e., exclude the word AIDS), yet scientifically accurate. Your suggestion of an acronym for the virus such as HALV,
for human AIDS-lymphadenopathy virus, seems reasonable.