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The Harold Varmus Papers

Letter from Wade P. Parks, University of Miami School of Medicine to Harold Varmus pdf (83,131 Bytes) transcript of pdf
Letter from Wade P. Parks, University of Miami School of Medicine to Harold Varmus
Number of Image Pages:
2 (83,131 Bytes)
1985-12-04 (December 4, 1985)
Parks, Wade P.
University of Miami. School of Medicine
Varmus, Harold
Original Repository: University of California, San Francisco. Archives and Special Collections. Harold E. Varmus Papers
Reproduced with permission of Wade P. Parks.
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
December 4, 1985
Dear Harold:
In my letter to Max Essex of April 24, 1985 which I copied to you, I asked to be notified if your committee elected to address the nomenclature of HTLV-III/LAV. Jay Levy indicated to me that you do not intend to undertake this step.
I would still argue that your committee would best be advised to let common usage decide the issue unless some agreement could have been reached between proponents of HTLV-III and LAV. With the apparent inability to resolve parentage of the prototype virus as evidenced by the Pasteur-NCI lawsuit, such as an agreement seems unlikely. Besides, the likely compromise of HTLV-III/LAV is at best, only a temporary solution.
There is an obvious name that most people already accept that is part of the public lexicon, AIDS virus. Whether it becomes human AIDS virus or AIDS virus is relatively unimportant. There is no compelling clinical or classification reason not to use this name. Particularly, its common usage will make it understandable to the public and will eventually assist it in overcoming the denial syndrome that has hampered the public's acceptance of the seriousness of the current problem. Also, earlier perceptions concerning infection versus disease may be addressed even better without the confusion of the clinical disease and the virus having different names.
Finally, the use of AIDS virus may or may not achieve widespread acceptance in this hemisphere but in many parts of the world it would be SIDA virus or something else. However, I am a proponent of having nomenclature reflect actual use and the recommendations of your committee would be very influential in directing that use.
Again, if your committee elects to readdress retrovirus classification, please advise me. Frankly, I would have reservations that the committee as currently formulated should undertake such a change. For the time being, HTLV-I asa type-C oncornavirinae and AIDS virus as a lentivirinae seems enough.
With my warmest personal wishes.
Wade P. Parks, Ph.D, M.D.
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