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The Origins of AIDS
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  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press
  • Expected online publication date: January 2021
  • Print publication year: 2021
  • Online ISBN: 9781108767019
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Book description

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 of Zaire, Jacques Pépin 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 campaigns intended to eradicate tropical diseases combined to disastrous effect to fuel the spread of the virus from its origins in Léopoldville 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.

Reviews

'Superb ... Pépin 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.'

Source: 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.'

Source: Science

‘A remarkable feat (…) works out the most likely path the virus took during the years it left almost no tracks'.

Source: New York Times

'An impressive feat of scientific scholarship … absorbing throughout, interweaving quantitative data with historical narrative and lively biographies.'

Source: 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'.

Source: 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.'

Source: Times Literary Supplement

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