The Origins of AIDS
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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.
3 Distribution of the four subspecies of Pan troglodytes and the Pan paniscus bonobo. Chimpanzees are poor swimmers, so that large rivers like the Cross, Sanaga, Ubangui and Congo became natural boundaries between the habitat of various species and subspecies. Pan troglodytes verus (total population in 2004: between 21,300 and 55,600, according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature) inhabits West Africa, from southern Senegal to the west bank of the Cross River in Nigeria;
destroy us completely, because if such organisms had existed, we would not have managed to reach our current status in the first place. But as I write these lines, there is renewed interest in sending humans on a wonderful voyage to Mars and back. The kids who watched Neil Armstrong’s small steps on the moon are now engineers, pilots, administrators and politicians. They think that their own generation also needs to push back a new frontier, that this is part of the human experience, and perhaps
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18–22, 24–30, 45, 48, 50, 52, 54 Pan troglodytes troglodytes, 15habitat of, 58, 76, 138, 148, 157, 224, 227, 228, HTLV-1 and, 60 SIVcpz in, 2, 18–22, 24–30, 46–8, 169, 221 Pan troglodytes verus, 18–22, 26, 41, 54, 55, 58 parenteral, 103–5 Paris, 55 Paulis, 154 Pearce, Louise, 151 penicillin, 115, 131, 133–4, 152–3, 163, 165, 177 pentamidine, 1, 128–31, 141, 156–7, 176 Pettit, Auguste, 55 phylogenetic trees, 22–3, 40, 52, 169, 195 physiological misery, 36
administrative posts were noted to be regular clients of sex workers.36–37 Construction of the CFCO railway became a major driver of prostitution in AEF. In Oubangui-Chari, between 1925 and 1932, 41,780 workers had been recruited, sent by boat to Brazzaville after walking all the way to Bangui. On the river boats, only 12% of the men were accompanied by their wives. In the railway workers’ camps, there were eleven men for each woman. The consequence was utterly predictable: prostitution