The first is my congratulations to those at CTC Medical Centre who participated in the Nature Conference on "Genes and
Systems in Development". I thought there were very good summary papers presented at that meeting. What was particularly
clear was the dominant role of UC Medical Centre in such work. I spent 4 very enjoyable years at UC Medical Centre 1970 -
1974 with Hugh Fudenberg and have remained in close contact with Dan Stites since then, as we are co-editors of the Lange
Book on Immunology.
The second point concerns a subject which has interested me for the past few years, namely AIDS. Comments made at the AIDS
meetings in Washington DC and discussions with speakers prompt me to raise this point with you. I understand you are involved
with nomenclature of viruses and one of the main sources of irritation to me at present is the continuing way in which we
have to write HTLV-III/LAV/ARV. It is quite a mouthful and is perpetuating departmental and at times international animosity.
I spoke with Jay Levy. There have been many suggestions e.g., HAV cannot be considered as it is used for Hepatitis A virus.
For obvious reasons, the tongue-in-cheek suggestion of HPV for "human poofter virus" is equally unacceptable. One
is forced to consider either the designation suggested by Flossie Wong-Staal, that is HALV for Human AIDS Lymphocytotropic
virus, or in my opinion, HARV for Human AIDS Retrovirus. H is essential to distinguish it from simian and feline retroviruses.
I do not hold a particularly strong view as to whether it should be RV for retrovirus or LV for lymphocytotropic virus. RV
would have one preference in it does not identify the characteristic main target of these particular group of viruses, lymphocytes.
I feel however it is essential that A (for AIDS) must be in the name. It would be crazy to ignore the obvious point that it
is AIDS which has highlighted this group of viruses and pushed them into the Medical and Public arena. Over half the requests
my laboratory receives for the test simply say "AIDS Antibody". To try and educate them to a virus that doesn't
have AIDS in it in this setting is scientifically unsound. I would assume the only justification for excluding the name AIDS
from the name of the virus is it may upset some people.
In summary therefore I feel it is essential that a Committee for Nomenclature of Viruses establishes, as soon as possible,
a satisfactory single name for this virus. It can be then be presented to editors of journals that this is the official name
for the virus and it must be included in all manuscripts. If the author chooses to then follow-up with his own pet alternative
name then that is an editorial discussion not a scientific discussion. The use of a four letter name does not preclude the
use of subscripts with a two or three letter code and a numeric component to indicate, where necessary, the actual source
of a particular isolate. On those grounds I would suggest terms HARV or HALV.