The science base underlying research on acquired immune deficiency syndrome.
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The science base underlying research on acquired immune deficiency syndrome.

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      Public Health Rep
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      In order to define the clinical syndrome of AIDS and begin to deal with it effectively, scientists needed to understand how the immune system works. Fortunately, considerable knowledge was available: research in immunology over the last two decades had provided the technological advances and basic information about cell-mediated immunity that were necessary for identification of the syndrome. Without this knowledge base, immune suppression would not have been recognized as the common link among AIDS patients manifesting a variety of infections and unusual neoplasms. Similarly, research on infectious diseases, and in particular on the role of viruses as etiologic agents, has had an important bearing on understanding of AIDS. The epidemiologic data to date indicate that an infectious agent most likely is involved and that transmission of the disease requires intimate contact and perhaps some passage of blood. Among the candidates for viral agents are Epstein-Barr virus, cytomegalovirus, and human T-cell leukemia virus. All have been isolated from the cells of AIDS victims, but whether they are etiologic agents or opportunistic pathogens remains unresolved. Knowledge gained from the study of any of these viruses will contribute to understanding of AIDS, and vice versa. In this paper, we have attempted to show the integral relationship between specific research on AIDS and the ongoing research effort in related disciplines. It is important to recognize that effective research is the result of careful consideration of which questions can and should be addressed and the development of innovative approaches to gain answers to those questions. Research on AIDS is proceeding as rapidly as it is only because of the solid foundations that have been developed in the areas of immunology and virology. It is this base of research that ultimately will provide the rationale and the tools for solving new problems.
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