Virus Hunt: The Search for the Origin of HIV/AIDsby Dorothy H. Crawford
In Virus Hunt, renowned virologist Dorothy H. Crawford takes us inside one of the great research quests of our timethe search for the origin of AIDS. From hospital intensive care wards to research laboratories to the African rain forests, Crawford follows the trail of the virus back to its roots deep in Africa. We track wild monkeys and apes through the… See more details below
In Virus Hunt, renowned virologist Dorothy H. Crawford takes us inside one of the great research quests of our timethe search for the origin of AIDS. From hospital intensive care wards to research laboratories to the African rain forests, Crawford follows the trail of the virus back to its roots deep in Africa. We track wild monkeys and apes through the junglegathering their DNA via hair and feces samplesto discover from which primates HIV first jumped to our species, ultimately concluding that the most virulent strain, HIV-1, came from chimpanzees in Cameroon. We then time travel back to colonial Africa around the turn of the 20th century, when the virus first spread to humans. But even the rapidly mutating HIV could not survive in one person long enough to adapt to our immune system. Crawford shows that it may have been given the opportunity to adapt by being transmitted rapidly from one person to the next through unsterile syringes, ironically used during a campaign to wipe out disease by mass inoculation. The book then moves to Leopoldville (now Kinshasa), where Crawford describes the unique series of social upheavals, starting in the 1920s, that sparked epidemic levels of sexually transmitted diseases, allowed HIV-1 to begin its exponential growth. And when in the 1960s chance took the virus abroad to Haiti, from where it jumped to the United States, its pandemic spread began. Crawford tells a gripping story of brilliant scientific sleuthing, breakthrough discoveries, tragic errors, stubborn intractable mysteries, generous collaborations, and bitter disputes. And along the way, she conveys, with a light and engaging touch, a wealth of interesting observations about viruses, DNA, disease, immune systems, the very latest research methods, and of course HIV.
"an engrossing history" Publishers Weekly
"This engaging work will appeal to a broad audience." Library Journal
"Crawford privides a contemporary summary of what is known about the origins of HIV and its movement from chimpanzees and mangabeys to humans. Her writing is crisp and clear." -R. Adler, University of Michigan, Dearborn, CHOICE
In this captivating work, virologist Crawford (microbiology, Univ. of Edinburgh; Deadly Companions: How Microbes Shaped Our History) unravels the mysterious origin of HIV. Simian immunodeficiency virus (SIV) jumped several times from chimpanzees or gorillas to humans, creating different strains of HIV, including the HIV-1 strain responsible for the current pandemic. The author posits the "cut hunter" theory, suggesting that the virus probably moved from chimpanzees to humans via a lacerated hunter who handled an infected chimp. This transfer likely happened in Cameroon around 1900, Crawford writes in this well-told narrative. Humans then carried the disease to present-day Kinshasa, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DR Congo), sometime before 1924. The city then was a boomtown, with male migrants who came for work, leaving their wives home in the villages. This created a thriving sex trade, which helped spread HIV. Upon gaining independence, DR Congo recruited foreign workers, many coming from Haiti. One Haitian returned home with the virus, probably in 1966, spreading the disease to the Western Hemisphere. From there, the disease arrived in the United States around 1969. VERDICT This engaging work will appeal to a broad audience.—Jeffrey Beall, Univ. of Colorado Denver Lib.
- Oxford University Press, USA
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- 5.50(w) x 8.70(h) x 1.20(d)
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