The detection of serum antibodies (Ab) against HTLV-III in individuals with AIDS and related symptoms (ARC) has unambiguously defined the association of the virus infection to AIDS. This study was done to determine the extent of exposure to HTLV-III in homosexual men by measuring (Ab) and relating it to the stage of disease and T cell subsets. We found Ab in 89.5% of the 492 men with the median titers by stage of disease being 1600 for symptom-free, 6400 for ARC or Kaposi's sarcoma, and 4800 for opportunistic infection (0I), respectively. There was no correlation between Ab titers and either absolute or relative T helper cells (T4+), even though these cells decreased with disease severity. More specifically, however, symptom free patients had a normal distribution of the helpers of suppression (T4+/Leu8+), whereas, in symptomatic men, there was a significant decrease suggesting that the target cell for the virus is a subpopulation of the T helper cell.
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