The Origin of AIDS: 60 Years Before the First Documented Case

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

By most accounts, the history of AIDS begins sometime in the late 1970s, before the first official cases were diagnosed in 1981 among a handful of gay men. But a striking new book by Dr. Jacques Pépin, an infectious disease specialist at the University of Sherbrooke in Quebec, upends medical history. In "The Origins of AIDS," Pépin traces the roots of the disease back to 1921 when a handful of bush-meat hunters in Africa may have been the first to be exposed to infected chimpanzee blood.

Donald G. McNeil, Jr., science reporter for The New York Times, reviewed the book, and talks about the surprising origins of the world's most devastating pandemic.


Donald G. McNeil, Jr.

Produced by:

Jen Poyant

Comments [2]

Carolyn from Boston

This is certainly not a new theory on the origin of AIDS. Even as the disease was ravaging white, homosexual communities, there was a concerted effort to find black scapegoats. Consequently, Haitians were deemed to be high risk, and then scientists turned their attention to Central Africa as the source of HIV. So there has always been an attempt to find black scapegoats. The question that is still left unanswered is how come a disease that supposedly came from Africa was first diagnosed in white, gay males? One would expect that if it indeed came from Africa, the first diagnosed cases in the US would be among Central African immigrants, not among white, gay men. The origin of AIDS still remains a mystery, but the answer may be much closer to home than Africa. Scientists are looking in the wrong dark places.

Oct. 22 2011 03:27 PM

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