The Relationship between AIDS and HIV
June 7, 2000
Initial TheoriesThe fact that homosexual men constituted the initial population in which AIDS occurred in the United States led some to surmise that a homosexual lifestyle was specifically related to the disease (Goedert et al., 1982; Hurtenbach and Shearer, 1982; Sonnabend et al., 1983; Durack, 1981; Mavligit et al., 1984). These early suggestions that AIDS resulted from behavior specific to the homosexual population were largely dismissed when the syndrome was observed in distinctly different groups in the United States: in male and female injection drug users; in hemophiliacs and blood transfusion recipients; among female sex partners of bisexual men, recipients of blood or blood products, or injection drug users; and among infants born to mothers with AIDS or with a history of injection drug use (CDC, 1982b,c,d,f, 1983a; Poon et al., 1983; Elliot et al., 1983; Masur et al., 1982b; Davis et al., 1983; Harris et al., 1983; Rubinstein et al., 1983; Oleske et al., 1983; Ammann et al., 1983b). In 1983, for example, a study found that hemophiliacs with no history of any of the proposed causes of AIDS in homosexual men had developed the syndrome, and some of the men had apparently transmitted the infection to their wives (deShazo et al., 1983).
Many public health experts concluded that the clustering of AIDS cases (Auerbach et al., 1984; Gazzard et al., 1984) and the occurrence of cases in diverse risk groups could be explained only if AIDS were caused by an infectious microorganism transmitted in the manner of hepatitis B virus (HBV): by sexual contact, by inoculation with blood or blood products, and from mother to newborn infant (Francis et al., 1983; Curran et al., 1984; AMA, 1984; CDC, 1982f, 1983a,b).
Early suspects for the cause of AIDS were cytomegalovirus (CMV), because of its association with immunosuppression, and Epstein-Barr virus (EBV), which has an affinity for lymphocytes (Gottlieb et al., 1981; Hymes et al., 1981; CDC, 1982f). However, AIDS was a new phenomenon, and these viruses already had a worldwide distribution. Comparative seroprevalence studies showed no convincing evidence to assign these viruses or other known agents a primary role in the syndrome (Rogers et al., 1983). Also lacking was evidence that these viruses, when isolated from patients with AIDS, differed significantly from strains found in healthy individuals or from strains found in the years preceding the emergence of AIDS (AMA, 1984).
This article was provided by U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.