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HIV infection can produce a clinical syndrome and immunologic changes similar to those seen in SS. HIV infection can occasionally result in an SS-like
disease but without the formation of antibodies to Ro(SS-A) or La(SS-B). Could this mean that a retrovirus yet to be discovered is responsible for the autoimmune exocrinopathy known as SS? Evidence to date is circumstantial, based on antibodies to a retroviral protein (p24). The idea that retroviruses act in a genetically susceptible host to cause SS is a reasonable hypothesis. Syphilis and
Lyme disease are both models where infectious organisms cause chronic multi-system
disease. The virus of SS need not be a foreign invader but could be an endogenous retrovirus contained within our own genetic material (10, 11). More investigation is needed to exploit the research opportunities that have appeared in clinical immunology since the AIDS epidemic first appeared.