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AIDS Virus in Saliva Rare, Research Finds

December 18, 1985|From Reuters

BOSTON — The virus responsible for AIDS rarely appears in human saliva and when it does, the amount is small, Massachusetts researchers said today.

The report, along with another study published today in the New England Journal of Medicine on nurses who gave AIDS patients mouth-to-mouth resuscitation, seemed to indicate the killer disease cannot be transmitted easily by oral contact.

Dr. David Ho and colleagues at the Massachusetts General Hospital said in their report that they tried to find the virus in the saliva of 71 homosexual men whose blood showed signs of the acquired immune deficiency syndrome virus.

The virus was found in only one of the 19 homosexuals who was seriously ill with the disease and in none of the remaining men, who either had AIDS-like symptoms or no symptoms at all, the report said.

Presence Infrequent

The AIDS virus "is present infrequently in the saliva of infected persons. When it was detected in the saliva of one patient . . . the amount of virus present was small," the group concluded.

In a separate report, doctors at the University of North Carolina School of Medicine and the Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta said they have been unable to find any evidence of the AIDS virus in two nurses nine months after they gave mouth-to-mouth resuscitation to a 28-year-old hemophiliac with AIDS.

Although health care workers should avoid direct mouth-to-mouth contact with an AIDS patient, the doctors concluded, the case is further evidence that the risk of passing AIDS through saliva of an infected person is probably quite low.

The discovery last year that the virus can be isolated from the saliva of infected persons prompted widespread concern that the deadly immune disease could be spread by kissing.

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