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The Origins of AIDS [Kindle Edition]

3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)

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Product Description


'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, 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, 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, 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, Harvard University and author of Saturday Is For Funerals

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

'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.' Sexually Transmitted Infection Journal

'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

'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 is scientific history at its most compelling … 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.' Bill Bynum, The Times Literary Supplement

Product Description

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.

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 1791 KB
  • Print Length: 310 pages
  • Simultaneous Device Usage: Up to 4 simultaneous devices, per publisher limits
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press; 1 edition (27 July 2011)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B005NND394
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #382,467 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Out of Africa 18 April 2012
By Eleanor TOP 500 REVIEWER
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
In "The Origins of AIDS" Jacques Pepin, an expert in infectious diseases who has spent many years working in Africa, explains how HIV spread from a few cases in the Congo in the 1920s to the pandemic it is today.

The story begins with SIV (Simian Immunodeficiency Virus) which is present in chimpanzees and is genetically identical to HIV. It is thought that SIV originated in chimps about 300 years ago and was transmitted to humans by cut hunters or cooks who butchered the animals. Then in about the 1920s someone infected in this way had the opportunity to spread the virus more extensively. Pepin argues that two factors allowed for the amplification of HIV: urbanization with an attendant increase in prostitution, and most significantly massive colonial disease eradication projects which resulted in mobile units injecting hundreds of people an hour with insufficiently sterilized needles. From here HIV steadily became more prevalent until one infected Haitian introduced the disease to their country precipitating (via the plasma industry) an epidemic which eventually spread to the US and the world.

Scientists are pretty certain about some of the steps in this story, others are more conjectural; however, Pepin builds a convincing argument with plenty of context and comparable examples. One does not have to have a scientific background to understand his argument and this is, for the most part, a readable book which fills a gap in the literature on AIDS. My only criticism would be with Pepin's overuse of exclamation marks (e.g. "Approximately 250,000 paid donors (a quarter of a million!) acquired HIV.") which is indicative of a wider problem of tone.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
By Emc2
Despite its academic nature this book is a page-turner, you will enjoy it like a really brilliant CSI episode. Dr. Jacques Pépin was quite successful in writing a book that reaches both academics and the laymen. Until now all the serious discussions and theories about the origins of the AIDS pandemic had been limited to academic journals. The book point of departure is based on these research findings, which are presented in the first chapters, and provide a comprehensive and very good summary of the state-of-the-art for the laymen. The reader shouldn't be intimated by some technical language, as the book was written for all audiences and the author did the extra work of explaining medical jargon for the general public when required, and anyway, most of the times you do not need to remember all of it to fully grasp the main storyline (just keep in mind a few key concepts, particularly the definition of HIV-1 group M, and subgroups B and C). Also from the start, Dr. Pépin debunks the two most common theories that tried to explain the origin of the AIDS pandemic.

After a very impressive Sherlock Holmes-like detective work through historical records, Dr. Pépin develops a very plausible explanation, going back to the colonial era in the early 1900s all the way to the early 1980s, with very solid theory, based on both circumstantial and hard evidence, following the path of the virus from Africa, to Haiti, and to the U.S., Europe and the rest of the world. The author did not intended to go any further, as the history and evolution of AIDS has been already covered by several authors.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An interesting and informative read 5 Jun. 2013
By Hannah
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This book as it says in the title looks into where AIDS comes and how scientist came to their conclusion. This is a very well structured and well written book. A very interesting an informative read.
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0 of 9 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars A POINT OF VIEW 14 Nov. 2013
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0 of 12 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars A theory, not proven in fact 6 Nov. 2012
Any one who reads this book has to understand that what is presented here is merely a theory.

A friend once remarked that" ... IF AIDS really did originate in Africa, surely the population of the continent would
have been COMPLETELY DECIMATED by now (given the poor, primitive and pathetic medical facilities generally
available - together with the very promiscuous nature of some of its people)".

This seems like common sense. making it hard to accept the conclusion of this theory (and others) as to the African
origin of the disease.

There are other theories of the origin of the disease that must be explored since the theory of its African origin seems
to me, at any rate, to be merely a convenient 'carpet' to brush things under.
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