Peripheral blood leukocytes and saliva from 20 individuals, including four with the acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS), ten with AIDS-related complex (ARC), and six healthy homosexual males at risk for AIDS, were compared as sources of transmissible human T-cell leukemia (lymphotropic) virus type III (HTLV-III), the virus found to be the etiologic agent of AIDS. All of the AIDS and ARC patients and four of the six healthy homosexuals had evidence of prior exposure to HTLV-III as indicated by seropositivity for antibody to HTLV-III structural proteins. Infectious virus was isolated from the peripheral blood of one of the AIDS patients, four of the ARC patients, and two of the healthy homosexual males, consistent with previous reports. HTLV-III was also isolated from the saliva of four of the ARC patients and four of the healthy homosexuals. Virus was also observed by electron microscopy in material prepared by centrifugation of the saliva of one AIDS patient. Although AIDS does not appear to be transmitted by casual contact, the possibility that HTLV-III can be transmitted by saliva should be considered.

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