The approach to the acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS) taken by public health departments and clinicians varies. Public health programs often neglect the human side of AIDS while clinicians often overlook public health issues. Current research on AIDS has failed to address many fundamental questions including: the biology of the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) in semen; whether present antiretroviral therapy has any effect on sexual infectivity; and whether adequate counseling was given to persons in HIV discordant partner studies. These unanswered basic questions highlight how research efforts framed from clinical, basic science, or public health viewpoints may have too narrow a focus. Three suggestions are made: 1) additional studies about the biology of HIV in the genital tract need to be conducted; 2) clinical trials studying drug therapy of HIV infection need to assess effect on HIV in the genital tract; 3) clinicians involved in studies and care of HIV infection need to implement educational strategies minimizing transmission of HIV from their patients. More interaction between public health and clinical approaches toward AIDS is needed.