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In the winter of 1980-81, several people with a form of Kaposi's sarcoma, a disease discovered in 1872 by Moritz Kaposi, were admitted to a hospital at New York University. On the skin of the lower limbs nodules appear brownish-red or bluish-red. Sometimes they ulcerate and necrotic, but usually do not affect the internal organs, and are not considered malignant tumors (in the majority of patients, Kaposi’s sarcoma lasts 8-10 years and responds well to chemotherapy treatment).

In the United States and Western European countries, Kaposi's sarcoma is extremely rare: 1-2 cases per 10 million people, and, as a rule, only in men over 60 years old. The men who entered the New York Hospital were at the age of 30 years. They were all homosexuals. Kaposi's sarcoma was malignant and most of them died within 20 months.

In the spring of 1981, Los Angeles doctors discovered another category of patients - with the malignant form of Pneumonia. This disease is caused by the simplest Pneumocystis carinii and is extremely rare in individuals with suppressed immune system function - for example, undergoing intensive immunosuppressive therapy after organ transplantation. Pneumocystis pneumonia was registered in young people who also turned out to be homosexuals.

In the summer of 1981, there were already 116 such cases in the USA ...

Although the clinical picture indicated an already known immunodeficiency syndrome, the cause and the pathways of the disease remained unclear. The sudden appearance of the disease, lightning spread, a strange connection with malignant tumors, Pneumonia, hemophilia, homosexuality, venereal diseases, an unusually long latent period and the lack of effective treatments - all this caused shock among doctors and scientists. The virus, now known as the causative agent of AIDS, was discovered only in 1983, and it was called differently.

A team of scientists at the National Cancer Institute in the United States, led by well-known immunologist and virologist Robert Gallo, discovered the causative agent of T-cell leukemia, a disease reported in the late 1970s in the Caribbean and southern Japan. Leukemia was very difficult: patients died in 3-4 months.

Gallo's success was promoted by the fact that in the mid-1970s he discovered T-cell growth factor, which is now called interleukin-2. This allowed the cultivation of T-lymphocytes in vitro.

The causative agent of acute T-cell leukemia in humans was the retrovirus. Gallo called his “own” agent T-cell leukemia virus human - HTLV-1. And he suggested that it originated in Africa, where they were infected by the primates of the Old World, and man too, that the virus had penetrated into America and the Caribbean through the slave trade.
It turned out that many species of African monkeys contain antibodies to HTLV-1 in their blood. Some varieties of the virus, especially those isolated from green monkeys and chimpanzees, had much in common with HTLV-1. Later it turned out that HTLV-1 is transmitted by blood transfusion. Another virus of this group that causes a rare blood disease, HTLV-2, has been identified.

It was at this time in the United States that the AIDS epidemic began, one of the ways of transmission of which was also blood transfusion. Therefore, Gallo suggested that HTLV-1 is the causative agent of AIDS. And indeed, in some patients, it was possible to isolate antibodies to HTLV-1, and in part, it was possible to isolate the virus itself. However, Gallo was wrong.

A group of scientists at the Pasteur Institute in Paris under the direction of Luc Montagnier, equipped much worse than the Gallo group, was created to study the possible connection of retroviruses with neoplastic diseases of the immune system, resulting in an increase in lymph nodes (lymphadenopathy). French scientists used the Gallo-interleukin-2, an open group, to identify the viruses they were looking for. In a study of one patient who had had lymphadenopathy for several years, a virus identified as a retrovirus was isolated. By its properties, it was similar to HTLV-1, but it had some features. Then a similar virus was isolated from AIDS patients.

In 1983, Science magazine published an article by French scientists. They reported that 2 of 33 AIDS patients had a retrovirus, which, unlike HTLV-1, did not have the ability to influence the malignant degeneration of T-lymphocytes. The authors gave it the name LAV (lymphadenopathy-associated virus). It does not cause reproduction, but, on the contrary, the death of T-lymphocytes.

Between both groups of scientists began an intensive exchange of ideas, biological materials. The Gallo group, using the methods developed by it, isolated a new retrovirus, called HTLV-3, from AIDS patients. It was possible to obtain a special line of T-lymphocytes, in which the virus multiplied rapidly, but the T-cells did not die. In early 1984, the Americans reported on the virus they had discovered in print. And then it was established that HTLV-3 and LAV are identical. Therefore, the virus has become denoted as HTLV-3 / LAV. In 1986, the Committee on taxonomy and nomenclature of viruses proposed to give the causative agent of AIDS a new name - HIV / HIV (human immunodeficiency virus).

So, the causative agent of AIDS was discovered two years after the publication of the first articles about the new disease, and the method of its diagnosis was developed less than 2.5 years after the first publications. This led to the fact that the first International Conference on AIDS, held in April 1985 in Atlanta, was dominated by an atmosphere of optimism.
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    In the winter of 1980-81, several people with a form of Kaposi's sarcoma, a disease discovered in 1872 by Moritz Kaposi, were admitted to a hospital at New York University. On the skin of the lower limbs nodules appear brownish-red or bluish-red. Sometimes they ulcerate and necrotic, but, usually do not affect the internal organs, and are not considered malignant.
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