Seven cases of acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) and AIDS-related complex (ARC) associated with human T-cell leukemia (lymphotropic) virus (HTLV)-III infection were documented in married males whose family members consented to medical evaulation. Five spouses also had evidence of HTLV-III infection documented by isolation of virus and by detection of serum antibody directed against viral structural proteins. Three of the five HTLV-positive spouses also had clinical evidence of ARC. The remaining four spouses were clinically healthy. Eleven children (between 14 months and 13 years of age) were also evaluated for evidence of disease and exposure to HTLV-III. Only one 14-month-old child was seropositive for antibody to HTLV-III. These data support the opinion that close household contact to patients with ARC or AIDS is not an efficient mechanism for virus transmission, while demonstrating that HTLV-III can be transmitted by repeated heterosexual contact.
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