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AIDS (cont'd.).

Recent AIDS research has revealed a possible new mode of transmission, a longer lead time for the virus and a higher virus prevalence than expected in a low-AIDS-incidence area.

While AIDS transmission from mother to fetus in utero has been established, researchers in Sydney, Australia, report the disease may also be transferred through the breast milk of an infected mother. In the April 20 LANCET they detail a case of AIDS in an infant whose mother had received blood from a donor who was subsequently diagnosed as having AIDS. Since the mother had previously been healthy and had received the transfusion immediately after giving birth, "transmission via breast milk seems the likely route of infection," the researchers report.

The May 16 NEW ENGLAND JOURNAL OF MEDICINE (NEJM) contains a study of 25 people at high risk of having AIDS. These prople were thought to be infectious because transfusion recipients who had received their blood had developed AIDS. Twelve to 52 months after donating blood, 22 of the 25 people had the AIDS virus in their blood; of those, 2 had AIDS, 5 had lymph node disease and 15 were asymptomatic. The researchers conclude that infection with the virus "may be persistent and asymptomatic for years."

In the May 9 NEJM, researchers from the Medical College of Georgia in Augusta describe a child who got AIDS five and a half years after receiving a transfusion from an asymptomatic homosexual intravenous drug abuser. The donor was later found to have antibodies to the virus; the case represents the longest latency yet reported for AIDS.

That same journal contains a survey by the Cleveland Clinic and Case Western Reserve University of homosexual men in northeastern Ohio, where the incidence of AIDS is low. They found that 23.6 percent of 320 homosexual men had antibodies to the virus, and that the presence of the antibodies was not related to multiple sexual partners, as they had expected from epidemiological studies of other areas. They were unable to explain the finding except to suggest that in low-incidence areas there may be a "core population" that spreads infection.

And finally, Flossie Wong-Staal, an AIDS researcher at the National Cancer Institute in Bethesda, Md., may have a solution for the name game -- what to call the virus (SN: 4/27/85, p. 260). In the April 18 NATURE, she nominates HALV, for human AIDS/lymphotropic virus. "Since it looks enough like HTLV, and contains all three letters of LAV, it may well be the perfect solution for the two groups to meet halv way," she writes. But will the ARV (AIDS-related virus) proponents buy it?
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Title Annotation:acquired immune deficiency syndrome
Publication:Science News
Date:May 25, 1985
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