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The Origins of AIDS

2nd Edition


  • Date Published: January 2021
  • availability: In stock
  • format: Paperback
  • isbn: 9781108720397

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About the Authors
  • 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 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 interventions 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.

    • This revised and updated edition incorporates nearly a decade's worth of new research on AIDS
    • Offers a unique combination of epidemiology and history in tracing the origins and amplification of AIDS within Africa and then worldwide
    • Explains the complex routes of the virus and how the extension of World War I to Africa might have allowed HIV to make its fateful journey from Southeast Cameroon to Léopoldville
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    Reviews & endorsements

    '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.' 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'. The 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 bears 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.' The Times Literary Supplement

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    Product details

    • Edition: 2nd Edition
    • Date Published: January 2021
    • format: Paperback
    • isbn: 9781108720397
    • length: 392 pages
    • dimensions: 228 x 152 x 19 mm
    • weight: 0.65kg
    • availability: In stock
  • Table of Contents

    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 Tropical 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

  • Author

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

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