• Gordon M. Dickinson


Since its recognition in 1981 the acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) has become the most striking disease of the 20th century. It is a fatal disease that results in the death of virtually all affected patients within 3 years of diagnosis. Initially described in homosexual men and intravenous drug users,1-3 AIDS is now recognized as a disease that also affects hemophiliacs, children born to infected mothers, and, through blood transfusions or sexual contact with infected persons, virtually anyone. The recognition of the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)—formerly named human T-lymphotrophic virus-type III (HTLV-III), lymphadenopathy-associated virus, or AIDS-related virus—as the causative agent of AIDS was followed by the development of an antibody test and detection of asymptomatic infections that greatly outnumber cases of AIDS. The actual number of infected persons in the United States is unknown. Estimates range from 1,000,000 to 1,500,000. How many infected persons will eventually develop AIDS is also unknown. Studies of homosexual men with HTLV-III antibody have found that 7–34% developed AIDS during the 12–72 months of observation from the time HTLV-III antibody was detected.4–7 The observation that immunological abnormalities are progressive over time in infected persons suggests that the number who eventually develop AIDS may be much higher.8,9


Human Immunodeficiency Virus Health Care Worker Acquire Immune Deficiency Syndrome Acquire Immunodeficiency Syndrome Infected Person 
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Copyright information

© Plenum Publishing Corporation 1988

Authors and Affiliations

  • Gordon M. Dickinson
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of MedicineUniversity of Miami School of Medicine, Miami Veterans Administration Medical CenterMiamiUSA

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