Veterinary Record 120:454-459 doi:10.1136/vr.120.19.454
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Pathogenesis and transmission of AIDS


AIDS is a slow virus disease caused by a lentivirus. The silent incubation period following infection usually lasts many years, during which the infected person is potentially infectious to others. Pathological changes accumulate imperceptibly. When major symptomatic disease develops it is eventually fatal. The epidemic spread of the virus is new in Africa, as well as in North America and Europe. Twenty-five per cent of people infected with the virus die within seven years of infection. The ultimate mortality 20 years after infection cannot yet be known, but it may turn out to be close to 100 per cent. It is already apparent that AIDS is the most lethal epidemic viral disease of humans known to medical science. Flaws in the generally accepted hypothesis that AIDS is a sexually transmitted infection are exposed. It has been, characteristically, a blood-borne infection in the early years of the epidemic. However, the AIDS virus is exceptionally unstable genetically and it is probable that means of transmission more efficient than through blood have already developed.

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