Some researchers, including Robert Gallo, MD, believe that human herpes virus type 6 (HHV-6) may be an important disease-causing agent in AIDS. The potential pathogenic role of HHV-6 is not yet clearly understood, but there is suggestive evidence that the virus may play a significant role in several diseases, including multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis, chronic fatigue syndrome and AIDS.
Two editorials in AIDS Weekly Plus (November 1994 and July 1995) have called for the screening of HHV-6 in blood and blood products. A PCR test for HHV-6 DNA is now available and could be used to prevent the transfusion of HHV-6-infected blood into immunocompromised individuals and to blood or blood product recipients who are HHV-6 negative. The editors of AIDS Weekly Plus note that HHV-6 is widely disseminated in immunosuppressed patients and is reactivated as HIV disease progresses. For a more detailed article on HHV-6, see pages 18-21 in the June 1994 issue of BETA.