I believe that I have a simple solution to your nomenclature problem.
As virology developed from pathology, viruses were originally named after the diseases they caused: poliomyelitis, measles,
mumps, rabies, etc. Then about 30 years ago this became unsatisfactory when it was recognized that different viruses may
cause the same clinical syndrome; for example, polio, mumps, coxsackie, echo, herpes, St. Louis encephalitis, and other viruses
may cause aseptic meningitis. Many viruses may induce inapparent infections. The same virus, enterovirus 71, may cause outbreaks
of encephalitis, polio-like paralysis, or hand-foot-and-mouth disease.
As a result, it was decided to name and classify viruses based on their biophysical and biochemical properties. Thus the
retrovirus family was established, with properties best known to you.
To come to the present situation, I suggest that the human retroviruses be named sequentially in the order in which they become
identified. Thus, HTLV-III/LAV would become human retrovirus 3 or HRV3. The virus may cause AIDS, or lymphadenopathy, or
fever, or loss of appetite, or may simply infect without causing symptoms.
If you glance through the enclosed, you will see how easily we work with the enterovirus numbering scheme. No one has any
problem with writing enterovirus 70 as a cause of acute hemorrhagic conjunctivitis, or coxsackievirus B4 as the cause of meningitis.
If there is any question about virologists using numbers, recall SV40 (the 40th virus isolated from simians).
An added advantage of a numbering system is that the number is fixed to a particular virus. The numbered agents may then
be entered into different subgroups, but their names (numbers) never change. This has worked well with the adenovirus subgroups.
When we saw an object of familiar morphology in the macrophages of an AIDS patient, we recognized it as a retrovirus, but
could only speculate on its role in disease (see enclosed note from Lancet).
If your Committee agrees on a numerical system, it will be instantaneously adopted. An added benefit is that patients will
not be stigmatized and frightened by having an AIDS virus infection.