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Black & white photograph mounted on cardboard and displayed in a clear acrylic stand. The photograph depicts the HIV virus which was first visualised at RPH using the Electron Transmission Microscope.

There is a red label at the bottom of the stand which reads:
'HTLV 111 Virus in Lymph Node
First Demonstration of HTLV 111 in World
Seen at Electron Microscope, R.P.H. Dept. Pathology 1984'.

The Transmission Electron Microscope is still located in the RPH Pathology Department in Milligan House. It is no longer working.

Historical information




Registration number
Item type
300 mm
Height or length
470 mm
280 mm
Inscriptions and markings

RPH Pathology Department
Medical Research

Contextual Information

AIDS (Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome) was first reported in the early 1980s and the disease quickly reached epidemic proportions.

Health workers at RPH became aware of the disorder within days of the early reports and quickly instituted diagnostic and therapeutic regimes to support those afflicted.

In addition to the Medical and Surgical Units that dealt with the epidemic, the Departments of Immunology, Microbiology, Medical Physics and Pathology focused on the peculiarities of the disease in their attempts to define its causation.

The Pathology Department’s Electron Microscopy Unit carefully scrutinised samples from affected patients. As well as clarifying how organs were affected during the course of the disease, they were able to detect, for the very first time in human tissues, the virus particles that came to be known as HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus).

Their ground-breaking findings were published in Lancet, one of the most prestigious medical journals.

Place made
Western Australia
Statement of significance

Scientific, social and historic significance. First demonstration of HTLV III in the world.

Primary significance criteria
Historic significance
Scientific or research significance
Comparative significance criteria
Interpretive capacity
Object’s condition or completeness
Well provenanced
Royal Perth Hospital Museum

Royal Perth Hospital Museum

Organisation Details
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