Antibodies to human T-cell lymphotropic virus type III (HTLV-III) were first detected in 1979 in serum samples from 30 known seropositive patients with hemophilia, over half of whom seroconverted in 1981-1982. Lymphadenopathy was present in 70% who were seropositive more than three years, compared with 10% who were seropositive three years or less. T-helper cell counts were low (307 ± 64 cells/cu mm) in the early seroconverters, and normal in the late seroconverters. T-suppressor cell counts were not related to the year of seroconversion. The long latency period after seroconversion suggests an ongoing indolent process, rather than an acute infection. It remains to be determined whether this is an aberrant part of the immune response initiated by HTLV-III antigens or the results of a chronic active HTLV-III infection.
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