I am replying to your letter of August 12th regarding the naming of the AIDS virus. As I have been gone for most of the interim
on vacation, I assume that your deliberations are rapidly approaching some consensus opinion, but would like to offer my own
To begin with, I think the name of the virus must take into consideration the clear fact that the first isolation was performed
and reported by the French. In addition, there is a growing realization that is now widespread that the AIDS virus is at best
distantly related to a HTLV-I and II while much more closely related to members of the lentivirus family. For both of the
above considerations, I clearly do not favor retaining the name HTLV-III for the AIDS virus. I am not personally concerned
about including the "AIDS" in the name of the virus because I think that our experience has taught us that avoiding
the term "AIDS" because of the stigma attached to the disease by the general public is only interpreted as a confirmation
by us that AIDS is a fearful disease deserving statementization. Clearly, this should not be the message in anything we do.
Rather, I think in the long run, we will gain by including the term "AIDS" in the name of the virus.
Beyond these observations, I don't think I have any novel suggestions for the virus name except that AIDS-associated retrovirus
(AARV) might satisfy some of the above considerations.
Best wishes in your task. I assume whatever you do you won't gain friends by this procedure.