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The Harold Varmus Papers

Letter from Harold Varmus to J. Michael Bishop pdf (86,976 Bytes) transcript of pdf
Letter from Harold Varmus to J. Michael Bishop
Item is a photocopy.
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1 (86,976 Bytes)
1985-04-26 (April 26, 1985)
Varmus, Harold
Bishop, J. Michael
Original Repository: University of California, San Francisco. Archives and Special Collections. Harold E. Varmus Papers
Reproduced with permission of the Regents of the University of California.
Medical Subject Headings (MeSH):
Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome
Terminology as Topic
Exhibit Category:
AIDS and HIV: Science, Politics, and Controversy, 1981-1993
Box Number: 2
Folder Number: 16
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: Human retrovirus subcommittee correspondence, 1985-1986
April 26, 1985
Dear Mike:
As Chairman of the Retrovirus Study Group of the ICTV, I have recently assembled a group of retrovirologists to find a suitable species name for the group of retrovirus isolates believed likely to represent the causative agents of the acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS). All members of the committee have been asked to make and solicit specific proposals, but I am writing to you, as one of the leaders in the field of animal virology, either to make a formal proposal (according to the enclosed guidelines) or to express your opinions about the some of the issues that have been raised.
In particular, are there names for this group of viruses that you find particularly inappropriate, and why? Do you believe that use of the term "AIDS" in the name would present serious problems with respect to patient-physician relations or the establishment of cause? (If so, how would those problems differ from those posed by the use of the term "polio" in poliovirus?) How important is it to avoid any potentially confusing abbreviations (e.g., "HAV" for "human AIDS virus" and "hepatitis A virus")? What taxonomic and other features do you feel are most compelling in the design of a species name? Should names as complex as human T cell lymphotrophic III/lymphadenopathy virus (HTLV-III/LAV) be allowed? Would they be used? Do you feel a compelling consensus for any single name has already been reached among virologists, clinicians or laymen?
Be assured that any comments you can forward to me on these topics before May 15th will be distributed to our members and helpful in our deliberations.
Harold E. Varmus, M.D.
American Cancer Society
Professor of Molecular Virology
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