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.