What is HTLV-III?


Dr. Sowaksky, You have fully explained what HTLV-I is, But on my recent HIV test it states "A non-Reactive result indicates that HIV-I (HTLV-III) antibodies have not been found in this patients specimen." What is the differences between HTLV-I and HTLV-III?


Thank you for your question. HTLV-III is an outdated term for HIV-1. In the very early years of the AIDS epidemic, scientists were looking for the cause of the disease. Different scientists discovered viruses that were associated with AIDS and gave them different names:

HTLV-III (Human T-Lymphotropic Virus Type III) LAV (Lymphadenopathy Associated Virus) ARV (AIDS Associated Retrovirus)

When it was discovered that these were all the same virus, rather than having multiple names for the same virus, these names were discontinued, and the name was changed to HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus).

HTLV-I and HTLV-II (sometimes referred to as HTLV-I/II) are often confused with HIV (notice how much the names HTLV-I, HTLV-II, HTLV-I/II, and HTLV-III all look very similar to one another). Neither HTLV-I nor HTLV-II are associated with AIDS. Since the term HTLV-III has been discontinued, this should end the confusion between the HTLV viruses and HIV.

If you have any further questions, please feel free to call the Centers for Disease Control at 1.800.232.4636 (Nationwide).