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The Origins of AIDS
Jacques Pepin
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The Origins of AIDS

4.13 of 5 stars 4.13  ·  rating details  ·  213 ratings  ·  31 reviews
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 ...more
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Published July 27th 2011 by Cambridge University Press
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I think we are all a bit spoiled by the recent genre of dramatic page-turning science non-fiction (see: Richard Preston). This is NOT one of those books. Its pure science - so at times I missed our new genre of science page-turners. But in the end, the book's thoroughness and clarity was addicting in itself. An admirable undertaking that tho pure science, makes an attempt AND SUCCEEDS to explain everything to a layman. For me, who knew the minimum (um, "monkeys in africa" / "a gay airline stewar ...more
Lucas Wiman
This is one of the most remarkable science books I've read in some time. It's astonishing to think that the HIV-1 epidemic is so thoroughly a legacy of colonialism (especially Belgian occupation of the Congo). Colonialism left a legacy of dirty needles used in (frequently useless) vaccination and treatment campaigns, abysmal economic conditions that led to rampant prostitution, and the introduction of incentives and technologies to encourage capture of chimpanzee meat in the first place. The aut ...more
Andrew Schirmer
Aug 13, 2012 Andrew Schirmer rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Andrew by: The TLS
A brilliant aggregation and distillation of hard evidence and conjecture concerning the origins of the viruses that cause AIDS in homo sapiens. Pepin manages to write clearly and with unexpected humor. The explanation of technical matters is handled adroitly and seductively--it almost makes one want to go out and get an epidemiology degree. It is an incredible story--from the species jump of a Simian Immunodeficiency Virus to the dissemination of the HIV viruses world-wide; a perfect storm invol ...more
Randy Mcdonald
Jacques Pepin's The Origins of AIDS is an amazing book, one of those titles that will be cited by future generations of writers as a foundational text for its field. The Origins of AIDS, naturally, takes a look at the ultimate origins of AIDS, as a virus that somehow managed to cross over from the chimpanzee populations of west-central Africa a century ago to that region's human population, eventually exploding into a general epidemic.

How did it happen? Pepin carefully details how the environmen
Walt Trachim
Dr. Pepin chronicles where the AIDS virus and the origins of HIV in a well-organized, methodical manner. He also discusses some of the history surrounding the efforts to isolate the virus further as well as initiatives involving treatment and prevention. At one level I found it to be unnerving; there was a lot that went on that I'm not sure was known to the general public around the time after the existence of the virus was made known. Just the same, it was a worthy book and I would certainly re ...more
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
Great job of explaining complicated things in a clear and engaging way. In addition to focusing on the disease itself, Pepin also discusses the social, cultural, technological, and political events that shaped the spread of AIDS. A good pick for a general interest reader.
Shela Sundawa
Such a well written book for any hungry knowledge readers. The arguments about dissemination of HIV are solid. The good intention of treating diseases by drug IV injection with reusable syringe and needle had turned into an amplification of 'unknown new virus'. Colonisation and country exploitation benefited the spreading of this virus. Profit driven plasmapharesis also add to its pandemic dissemination.

I hope every health providers and policy makers will read this book, so that every decision
The first officially documented AIDS cases surfaced in the United States in 1981. With the epidemic, so started the quest for AIDS origins, and also a cure. More than three decades later, a cure is not yet in sight, but the image of the cradle of AIDS, its time and place defined, has come into new focus, as have the trails the virus first took to take over the world.

There are several theories surrounding the origins of AIDS, some more controversial than others. The widely accepted theories invol
'The Origins of AIDS' was a fascinating read. Pepin provided the reader with sufficient background information so that they could understand the logic behind certain assumptions and the science behind various procedures and tests. He took the time to explain much of the complex science involved in understandable terms while avoiding 'dumbing down' the science and thus watering down his findings. I appreciated that Pepin incorporated the political and socioeconomic background to help better expla ...more
Robert Dildine
The first of many errors in the book is the title. Pepin knows little about the origin of AIDS, and has done no research of his own; he merely parrots one side of the origins debate. Other parts of the book are interesting, and perhaps useful, but the origins sections are simply assertions that are not backed up by evidence or research. He does show how unlikely the bushmeat/cut hunter theory of the origin of AIDS really is, but he ignores the wealth of evidence that supports the alternative ora ...more
So it turns out the last half of this book is almost entirely notes, which is a good thing because I was starting to lose focus a little. That should not be seen as a reflection on the book, which is very well-written and researched, but rather as a reflection on my currently hectic life. In fact, I didn't really do the last couple of chapters justice by reading them closely, but I still feel like I can give some impressions based on the large majority that I did read closely.

Again, this is a v
Great book. I only gave it 4 stars because I'm not even close to being a biologist, doctor, or otherwise, so the specific details of virology were a bit over my head at times. That being said, it was surprisingly readable and I found it fascinating. The story it tells is an essential lesson of the 20th century.
This was a moderately difficult read. It gets extremely detailed in places which can be a bit overwhelming at times, but this is probably about the best book available on the subject of how we know what we know about the origin of AIDS. I wholeheartedly recommend it for anyone interested in the subject.
Clear and thorough in its analysis of how human behaviour created the conditions for the emergence of HIV. It is heavy going at times but the analysis is well worth it.
This is an exceptional book written by an author who is both compassionate and scientific. A book I highly recommend to those who are interested in epidemiology.
Kelly Auer
This was a fascinating analysis of how HIV made the jump into humans, as well as a very logical exposition of how it probably spread globally. An excellent, if grim, read.
fairly interested if interested in that sort of thing
Samuel Brase
An incredible account of the origin of our modern plague. Concise, knowledgeable, readable--everything a good medical history should be. The author has worked on AIDS for 30 years and as such has an excellent grasp on the disease and its related factors. Most interest to me were the chapters detailing Belgian colonization of the Congo; it seems this was really the match that set off the AIDS powderkeg, and their efforts to immunize the population against better-known diseases of the time helped ...more
Peter C
Best book I've read so far this year?
A very interesting book chronicling the social and biological origins of HIV in Africa and its spread around the world. The science is explained well and the writing is engaging. What I liked the most is he explored the medical, sociological, political history of this disease.. It would be an excellent read for anyone involved in novel health interventions or officials involved in policy decisions. The book's overarching message is that well intended medical interventions sometimes have unintend ...more
Read this because I get tired of the BS claims that AIDS came from intercourse with monkeys and, in the USA, an overly promiscuous homosexual flight attendant.

Knew the virus had been around long enough to develop subgroups in humans, was not aware of the differences between HIV-1 and HIV-2.

Overall, easy and interesting to read.
Vincent Racaniello
Simply a fabulous book on when and where HIV-1 and HIV-2 arose in Africa. The author, a physician, patiently explains the science and provides a convincing argument that European colonisation of Africa played a huge role in the spread of HIV. A must read for those who want to know how these viruses jumped from monkeys to humans.
Atila Iamarino
Achei um livro excelente. Didático, acessível e muito completo. Pelo conteúdo, eqüivale a um mega review. E de quebra explicou a possível importância de vacinas e doação de sangue no surgimento da epidemia de HIV, que eu desconhecia.
Speed Rogers
Excellent, however it made me uncomfortable at several points during the book. I also question the validity of the importance placed on contaminated needles in the early stages of the epidemic
This book was great and I recommend it. It's scientific, but everything is explained well. The prose isn't dry either, it's very well written.
I read the first two chapters last night. I really love books that are part science and part history. This book fits the bill.
Excellent historical account of potential factors that made possibly the jump of HIV from our primate cousins.
Highly recommend to anyone interested in twentieth-century history. A masterwork, IMO.
Probably better for someone with a background in statistics.
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