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BMJ. British Medical Journal. 1992 Aug 8; 305(6849):325-6.The press widely publicized investigative findings at the international AIDS conference in Amsterdam, the Netherlands about patients with signs or symptoms consistent with AIDS or AIDS-related complex but who did not have HIV-1 or HIV-2 antibodies or the viruses themselves. Yet the formal scientific sessions ignored this topic and the conference summaries only casually mentioned it. Tests used to try to detect HIV were antibody testing, virus isolation, or molecular detection techniques. The press suggested several emotive questions not based on clinical data such as the safety of national blood supplies. 4 of the 5 patients in New York City had HIV risk factors. The only clinical indications of immunodeficiency in 1 patient was Mycobacterium tuberculosis infection and 2 somewhat low CD4 counts which may have actually been due to tuberculosis. Laboratory personnel have not yet reconfirmed reverse transcriptase activity of lymphocytes from 2 patients. So far these cases do not exhibit epidemiological criteria for a new transmissible agent. There has been no case clustering or a pattern of sexual or vertical association of cases. These cases may only be more detections of cases of rare spontaneous primary or secondary immunodeficiency disease. If epidemiological support does suggest a transmissible agent, laboratory personnel may find it difficult to isolate and identify agent. The US Centers for Disease Control and WHO wants to coordinate reporting and classification of cases so epidemiologists can quickly verify or reject laboratory findings based on a larger series of cases. Only with full evaluation of ongoing research and development of sensitive and specific detection systems for new pathogens can the scientific community address questions concerning the safety of blood supplies. This reaction of the press indicates a need for the peer review system to continue to establish the soundness of research before its release to the press to avoid undue concern.