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The Origins of AIDS (2011)

por Jacques Pepin

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842255,604 (4.37)Nenhum(a)
"This compelling new account traces the origins and development of the most dramatic and destructive disease epidemic of modern times. Jacques Pepin looks back to the early twentieth-century events in Africa that triggered the emergence of HIV/AIDS and the subsequent evolution and transmission of the disease before it was first officially identified in 1981. The book focuses on the specific circumstances in Leopoldville, the capital of the Belgian Congo, where urbanization, the spread of prostitution, and medical interventions to control the incidence of tropical diseases interconnected to fuel the communication of HIV-1 in the 1960s, as the country struggled to adapt to its newfound independence. With a unique synthesis of historical, political and medical elements, this book adds a coherent and necessary historical perspective to recent molecular studies of the chronology of the HIV/AIDS pandemic"--Provided by publisher.… (mais)
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Understanding the origins of AIDS is important for at least three reasons. First, HIV/AIDS is an important biomedical global disease that is still not conquered. Second, much cultural rhetoric due to stigma exists in society about this disease, and blame for the AIDS pandemic have been wrongfully placed at the feet of many oppressed groups. Third, contemporary events with coronavirus have shown that humans aren’t as safe from disease and pandemic as we might imagine, and understanding pandemics more generally is an advantageous endeavor.

In the second edition of this work, Pépin makes a compelling case that HIV/AIDS arose in central Africa, probably in Cameroon, from a hunter preparing and eating infected ape-meat. This likely happened in the early twentieth century, not mid-century as traditional tales tell. It was soon transmitted to the metropolis of Léopoldville in the Belgian Congo (now Kinshasa in the Democratic Republic of the Congo). The contagion was spread by the medical establishment (that is, iatrogenically) through intravenous injections with insufficient cleaning. Tribal social conditions in prior generations in Africa might have kept this disease at bay, but rapid urbanization contributed to the disease’s spread through a high male:female ratio, which encouraged sexually polyamorous relationships.

The disease was spread to North America through Haiti. Haitian teachers had come to the Congo to serve as civil servants (due to the collapse of colonialism), contracted the disease through normal sexual relations, and brought it back with them to their homeland. Pépin suggests, again, that iatrogenic means were instrumental in its spread. Contrary to popular legend that claims that licentious homosexuality deserves most of the blame, he makes a detailed case that plasmapheresis centers to collect human plasma amplified the disease among Haitians in and around the capital Port-au-Prince. Eventually, sexual contact and travel brought it to New York and San Francisco, where it spread rapidly among illicit drug users and a homosexual community that was just coming out of social oppression. It continued to spread in sub-Saharan Africa, and the American medical-industrial complex continued to study and define the disease as it spread. Particularly in sub-Saharan Africa, simple public health measures (like education about condoms in at-risk populations) could have slowed its reach dramatically.

Pépin tells this complicated tale with detailed reasoning gained through a medical degree, an epidemiology PhD, and a lifetime of medical work in Africa. He seamlessly combines social and political history with medical research to trace this disease’s spread. Of course, he acknowledges that he cannot define every step with certainty, but instead reasons through the probabilities of the possibilities with academic rigor. The first edition of this work has been well-received by the scientific and literary communities, so it likely will continue to gain an audience among interested parties worldwide.

This work addresses many potential audiences – including those interested in global and public health, international politics, AIDS and infectious disease research and treatment, the spread of disease and pandemics, contemporary affairs in North American or Europe, colonial and post-colonial African history, and the social theory of oppressed groups. Frankly, it is a compelling work of genius, and kudos go to Cambridge University Press for publishing it in a second edition. My interest was gripped from the opening to the closing, and I sincerely hope that others will hold it in similar esteem. ( )
  scottjpearson | Mar 8, 2021 |
I'm not quite sure why I took this to read at the beach, but there you have it. Lots of entirely compelling, if somewhat speculative, analysis of the early years of HIV / AIDS. Cool read. ( )
  benjaminsiegel | Jul 30, 2016 |
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"This compelling new account traces the origins and development of the most dramatic and destructive disease epidemic of modern times. Jacques Pepin looks back to the early twentieth-century events in Africa that triggered the emergence of HIV/AIDS and the subsequent evolution and transmission of the disease before it was first officially identified in 1981. The book focuses on the specific circumstances in Leopoldville, the capital of the Belgian Congo, where urbanization, the spread of prostitution, and medical interventions to control the incidence of tropical diseases interconnected to fuel the communication of HIV-1 in the 1960s, as the country struggled to adapt to its newfound independence. With a unique synthesis of historical, political and medical elements, this book adds a coherent and necessary historical perspective to recent molecular studies of the chronology of the HIV/AIDS pandemic"--Provided by publisher.

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