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AIDS: Etiology, Diagnosis, Treatment, and Prevention

Jerry D. Smilack, MD
JAMA. 1997;278(2):170-171. doi:10.1001/jama.1997.03550020102051.
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In contrast to the somber mood of acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) professionals just over a year ago (see my review of The AIDS Knowledge Base [Little, Brown & Co] in JAMA, November 15, 19951), excitement and optimism are the applicable descriptors in 1997. New antiretroviral drugs constitute a tremendous advance over the zidovudine (AZT), didanosine (ddI), and zalcitabine (ddC) triad of a few years ago. Long-term control of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection is no longer a speculative hope, but a reality. The word "cure"—almost unimaginable in this context—is now creeping into conversations at national AIDS meetings.

Paralleling advances in AIDS treatment has been an explosion in knowledge of many aspects of HIV infection. We now know about the intense replicative activity of HIV in the human body, the turnover of infected CD4+ lymphocytes, new manifestations of human infection with many opportunistic pathogens, and innovative approaches to preventing some


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