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The Origins of AIDS

Jacques Pepin

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Cambridge University Press
21 February 2021
It is now forty years since the discovery of AIDS, but its origins continue to puzzle doctors, scientists and patients. Inspired by his own experiences working as a physician in a bush hospital in Zaire, Jacques Pepin looks back to the early twentieth-century events in central Africa that triggered the emergence of HIV/AIDS and traces its subsequent development into the most dramatic and destructive epidemic of modern times. He shows how the disease was first transmitted from chimpanzees to man and then how military campaigns, urbanisation, prostitution and large-scale colonial medical interventions intended to eradicate tropical diseases combined to disastrous effect to fuel the spread of the virus from its origins in Leopoldville to the rest of Africa, the Caribbean and ultimately worldwide. This is an essential perspective on HIV/AIDS and on the lessons that must be learned as the world faces another pandemic.
By:   Jacques Pepin
Imprint:   Cambridge University Press
Country of Publication:   United Kingdom
Edition:   2nd Revised edition
Dimensions:   Height: 228mm,  Width: 152mm,  Spine: 19mm
Weight:   650g
ISBN:   9781108720397
ISBN 10:   1108720390
Pages:   392
Publication Date:   21 February 2021
Audience:   General/trade ,  Professional and scholarly ,  ELT Advanced ,  Undergraduate
Format:   Paperback
Publisher's Status:   Active
Introduction; 1. Out of Africa; 2. The Source; 3. The Timing; 4. The Cut Hunter; 5. The Scramble for Central Africa; 6. Tropical Boom Towns; 7. The Oldest Profession; 8. Injections and the Transmission of Viruses; 9. The Legacies of French Colonial Medicine; 10. The Legacies of Belgian Colonial Medicine; 11. The Other Human Immunodeficiency Viruses; 12. From the Congo to the Caribbean; 13. The Blood Trade; 14. A Long Journey; 15. Globalisation; 16. A False Villain, a Genuine Hero; 17. Epilogue

Jacques Pepin is Professor in the Department of Microbiology and Infectious Diseases at Universite de Sherbrooke, Canada. He has conducted research on infectious diseases in sixteen African countries.

Reviews for The Origins of AIDS

'Superb ... Pepin rightly argues that, apart from social factors promoting HIV spread, inherent properties of the virus must determine its fitness to become pandemic. He also provides the best analysis I have read of the declining HIV-2 epidemic in West Africa.' Nature 'Extensively referenced, [this] well-written book reads like a detective story, while at the same time providing a didactic introduction to epidemiology and evolutionary genetics. As far as the origins of AIDS are concerned, unless some completely new evidence emerges, it will be difficult to come up with a better explanation than Pepin's.' Science 'A remarkable feat (...) works out the most likely path the virus took during the years it left almost no tracks'. New York Times 'An impressive feat of scientific scholarship ... absorbing throughout, interweaving quantitative data with historical narrative and lively biographies.' The Lancet 'A model study of epidemiology, microbiology, genetics, and social and cultural history. (...)The Origins of AIDS bear brilliant witness to the costs of living in a world plagued by emerging and re-emerging infectious diseases'. The New Republic 'This is scientific history at its most compelling ... He writes with grace and feeling, and makes accessible the scientific and clinical issues. Above all, he comes across as a humane and caring doctor. This is a major contribution to our understanding of the scourge that has defined our times.' Times Literary Supplement 'Superb ... Pepin rightly argues that, apart from social factors promoting HIV spread, inherent properties of the virus must determine its fitness to become pandemic. He also provides the best analysis I have read of the declining HIV-2 epidemic in West Africa.' Nature 'Extensively referenced, [this] well-written book reads like a detective story, while at the same time providing a didactic introduction to epidemiology and evolutionary genetics. As far as the origins of AIDS are concerned, unless some completely new evidence emerges, it will be difficult to come up with a better explanation than Pepin's.' Science 'A remarkable feat [...] works out the most likely path the virus took during the years it left almost no tracks.' New York Times 'An impressive feat of scientific scholarship ... absorbing throughout, interweaving quantitative data with historical narrative and lively biographies.' The Lancet 'A model study of epidemiology, microbiology, genetics, and social and cultural history ... The Origins of AIDS bear brilliant witness to the costs of living in a world plagued by emerging and re-emerging infectious diseases.' The New Republic 'This is scientific history at its most compelling ... He writes with grace and feeling, and makes accessible the scientific and clinical issues. Above all, he comes across as a humane and caring doctor. This is a major contribution to our understanding of the scourge that has defined our times.' Times Literary Supplement


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