Office of NIH History  
In Their Own Words: NIH Researchers Recall the Early Years of AIDS
 
Audio Transcript
Dr. Robert Gallo
 
   
 
AIDS being identified right after the discovery of the first and the second human retroviruses is one heck of an extraordinary phenomenon. All I can say is that it appears to be a coincidence. It has actually misled me. As well as leading me right, it also led me wrong. I put that in my book. For me, AIDS could not conceivably be a different category of a retrovirus. We predicted it was a retrovirus; we were right. We dictated, of course, that it would be in the HTLV family. It was not. So, actually, I think our level of confidence, that we were getting good at predicting, or hypothesizing, probably cost us six months in working on this problem. When I look back on it, we should have had this problem solved in 1982, before the first experiments were even done in France. We started reasonably early, by May of 1982, and should have been done by the fall of 1982, by the end of 1982 at the latest, but we just could not conceive... This is another example of knowing too much, but also not enough. From our experience with HTLV-I and HTLV-II, we thought that we could predict how best to isolate this virus, and we were following our procedures a little too blindly.
 
     
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