The Origins of AIDS by Jacques Pepin

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OriginsAIDSThe Origins of AIDS by Jacques Pepin (Cambridge University Press, 2011)

Blurb: 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 Leopoldville 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.

This was a very well written, very well researched book. In places it was a little bit difficult to understand, but that’s not the author’s fault–he did an excellent job of simplifying complex information. The book isn’t intended for general reading, I don’t think, so it’s not surprising that someone without a medical/scientific background might struggle a bit.

Pepin also does an excellent job of summarizing the effects of colonialism on African nations in the context of a pandemic. I recommend this book to anyone who is interested in where HIV came from.

My rating: 5 stars

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