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The Origins of AIDS [Hardcover]

Jacques Pepin
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
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Book Description

Oct. 17 2011 1107006635 978-1107006638 1
It is now thirty years since the discovery of AIDS but its origins continue to puzzle doctors and scientists. Inspired by his own experiences working as an infectious diseases physician in Africa, Jacques Pepin looks back to the early twentieth-century events in 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 urbanization, 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 new perspective on HIV/AIDS and on the lessons that must be learnt if we are to avoid provoking another pandemic in the future.

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"Despite the scientific advances made since the discovery of HIV, questions of the pandemic's origin still trouble us. Why us? Why now? How could this happen? Pepin's remarkable book provides, at last, a comprehensive answer. Three decades of scientific and historical research are distilled into an engaging, highly readable, and sometimes disturbing account of HIV's journey that will interest students and researchers of the virus and its fallible host." Oliver G Pybus, Department of Zoology, University of Oxford

"In this scholarly and immensely readable account of the origin of AIDS, Dr Pepin draws on his personal experience of working in central Africa and his extensive knowledge of African history, as well as his training in infectious diseases, virology and epidemiology. Unlike others who have tackled the subject, he comes to it with an open mind, and this account is likely to be definitive." David Mabey, Professor of Communicable Diseases, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine

"This first major re-assessment of the origin of AIDS since Hooper's The River, delves into the extensive archives on the AIDS epidemic. Weaving together the findings of many researchers currently working on the topic, it will undoubtedly stimulate discussion on a subject of great concern and interest: the historical record of the emergence of new viruses." -William H. Schneider, Professor of History, Indiana University

"The origin and early epidemiology of the Human Immunodeficiency Viruses (HIV) has been perplexing and controversial. Jacques Pepin provides a unique insight as an investigator who has spent years in several African countries and has contributed substantially to our knowledge of routes of transmission. We must learn from this history if we wish to avoid future pandemics." -Allan Ronald, Professor Emeritus, University of Manitoba

"A great book on the evolutionary origin of HIV and the possible role of cultural and medical practices in Central Africa in the dissemination of the virus" -Max Essex, Lasker Professor at Harvard University and author of "Saturdays are for Funerals"

"Extensively referenced, the 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

"This is a beautifully written book, which explains epidemiological and scientific concepts such as phylogenetic analysis in clear and simple language. Pepin has assembled a vast amount of information from a wide variety of sources, and paints a clear, coherent and convincing account of the origins of AIDS. This book is required reading for anyone with a serious interest in infectious diseases." -David Mabey, Sexually Transmitted Infections

"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

"An impressive feat of scientific scholarship ... absorbing throughout, interweaving quantitative data with historical narrative and lively biographies." -The Lancet

"This book is an excellent, fair-minded attempt to elucidate a much-contested story.' -Literary Review

"Pepin's achievement is formidable. He has mastered a vast technical literature in French and English, exploited the archives and material remains of colonial and postcolonial Africa, and knows his African history to boot. 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." -TLS

"The superb organization organization of the book is noteworthy; the reader is never left hanging, and the path to the next topic is always clear. Highly recommended." -Choice

"Pepin has written an absorbing analysis of the roots of the epidemic." -Nicolas van de Walle, Foreign Affairs

"The language of Pepin's book is academic, yet easily accessible to a lay, educated readership. Graphics, charts and maps emphasize the text content. The Origins of AIDS offers, for the first time, an in-depth look into the pandemic prior to 1981 and, with that, the missing pieces that complete the story of AIDS." -Alina Oswald, A&U, America's AIDS magazine

Book Description

A compelling new account of the origins and development of HIV/AIDS before the disease was first identified in 1981. Jacques Pepin looks back to the early twentieth-century events that triggered the most dramatic epidemic of modern times and presents a synthesis of its historical, political, medical and molecular dimensions.

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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars See scientist speak English Jan. 5 2012
Format:Paperback
Many scientists do not seem to have a grasp of any language, but the much-traveled and multilingual Pepin does a fabulous job of putting together the complex science behind the origins of AIDS, yet presenting it in a charming and comprehensible fashion that is free of most scientific jargon.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderfully readable book on history of AIDS Feb. 26 2012
By bdeshar
Format:Paperback
I have been looking for a long time for a book outlining the history of AIDS, and this book is the scientific part of it.

It is written by Jacques Pepin, professor at Sherbrooke University in Quebec, Canada. One might expect an unreadable and boring extended scientific paper, but to my great pleasure, that is not the case. This book is easy to read, extremely interesting and yet scientifically rigorous.

However, this book is not talking about social debates associated with the emergence of AIDS after 1984 in North America, hence for a more sociological account, one might go and look for Engel's "The Epidemic".

Overall an excellent book, which I recommend to non-scientifics as well.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Eye Opener Aug. 5 2014
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This book was an eye opener.
It made the epidemic a reality. It made the giant puzzle of HIV-Aids more understandable and easier to comprehend. I like how the author weaves the epidemic from the being from Africa to Haiti to the US. He goes through all the ways that HIV could have to transmitted the fastest to become the epidemic that it is today, and the least likely ways.
I thought that it was a little heavy on the medical/technical side sometimes, but you kind of need that for this topic.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Why Teachers Should Read ''The Origins of AIDS'' March 10 2014
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I know AIDS has taken the lives of a lot of good people, millions in fact. I have contributed to charities raising funds for AIDS research, but I have never felt personally concerned about this disease more than about any other (an ancillary benefit of having been a one-woman man for the last 31 years, I suppose). I’ve never been particularly interested in medicine or biology for that matter. So what compelled me to read an extensive, detailed study of the history of the virus known as HIV?

I had read a lot of good reports about this book, how it was the truth about AIDS that nobody wanted to talk about. How many times had I heard that before? Although I’d never read a complete book on the subject, I had a hunch that this might be a book worth reading. Not because I was interested in AIDS per se, but because its spread had become such a cultural and educational phenomenon.

How many times have you heard it said that what we need is “AIDS education”? So after 30 years of AIDS education and an intense media blitz, how is it that someone like me, who can read and pay attention, is still so ignorant about this disease? AIDS, because it has been described as an epidemic beginning in 1981, is an example of how the population we are all part of is educated on a mass level. My conclusion is: very poorly.

Over the years, every time I encountered a discussion of AIDS it was invariably someone announcing that someone else was wrong about it’s etiology. The news media was only interested in an AIDS story if it involved a celebrity, a scandal or a surprising and dramatic turn of events. It was only news if someone was claiming an unexpected breakthrough or a cover-up.
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5.0 out of 5 stars The Origins of AIDS July 9 2013
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This book is a scientific account of the origin of AIDS. The author has not only provided convincing evidence of the origin of AIDS but has described the social and political contexts of how the disease came to spread from an isolated area of central Africa to a world-wide situation. The key findings of the book resides in my view with the scientific approach used by the authors to validate his hypothesis. A great and interesting book to have in one's collection. Excellent research work.
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