Viral Sex: The Nature of AIDS

Paperback | September 1, 1998

byJaap Goudsmit

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The current worldwide AIDS crisis is about 20 years old, but the disease itself is much older. In fact, AIDS is only the latest chapter in the evolution of the complex retrovirus we call HIV. Where was HIV lurking before it emerged in the early 1980s? There is some evidence that the Westernstrain of HIV arose in Europe as early as 1939. There is even more evidence that HIV is a direct descendant of a virus which has long infected certain African apes and monkeys, a virus called SIV--simian immunodeficiency virus. But why is a virus that is harmless in monkeys so lethal in humanbeings? And why, after millennia of contact between African monkeys and humans, is SIV only now entering the human population in plague proportions? In Viral Sex, leading AIDS researcher Jaap Goudsmit illuminates the origins and nature of the world's most lethal disease. He provides an eyewitness account of sciences effort to understand and control the spread of this deadly virus, in a fascinating journey that reaches from the deepestrecesses of the African rainforest, to ancient Egypt and the mummified remains of Barbary apes, to pioneering research labs in the U.S. and Europe. A key idea in understanding the AIDS crisis, we discover, is the concept of "viral sex." We learn that HIV not only produces offspring that are almostexact copies of the parents, as do most other viruses, but that it can also reproduce sexually, creating a recombinant population of subtly varying members. This "viral sex" gives HIV an edge in adapting inside a foreign body, and this is why the virus could survive the leap from ape to man. ButGoudsmit presents devastating evidence that the real villain of the AIDS epidemic is not HIV, but the ongoing destruction of the Western Equatorial rainforest and the wild monkeys and apes who once thrived there. Goudsmit argues that human encroachment on the African monkey habitat provided theopportunity for the SIV virus to jump to its new host, human beings. He also describes how humans then brought HIV out of the rainforest at the turn of the century, most probably to Cameroon. From there some strains went to German East Africa, where the virus evolved into the African AIDS virus wesee today, while other strains left Cameroon for Germany on the eve of World War II. Goudsmit is uniquely qualified to provide readers with vital perspective on this worldwide crisis. Provocative, vividly written, and impeccably researched, Viral Sex instills readers with a new sense of the urgent need to contain HIV and other similarly lethal viruses before they spread beyondthe grasp of even the most sophisticated science.

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From Our Editors

A compelling and important exploration of the nature of AIDS and those studying the disease, Viral Sex illuminates the origins and nature of this lethal disease. Providing an eyewitness account of science’s effort to understand and control the spread of the virus, the book is a fascinating journey that delves deep into the African rain...

From the Publisher

The current worldwide AIDS crisis is about 20 years old, but the disease itself is much older. In fact, AIDS is only the latest chapter in the evolution of the complex retrovirus we call HIV. Where was HIV lurking before it emerged in the early 1980s? There is some evidence that the Westernstrain of HIV arose in Europe as early as 19...

Jaap Goudsmit, M.D., , universally recognized as one of the leading scientists working on HIV and AIDS, is Professor of Virology and Chairman of the Department of Human Retrovirology at the University of Amsterdam, The Netherlands, and Chairman of the Scientific Advisory Committee of the International AIDS Vaccine Initiative.

other books by Jaap Goudsmit

Format:PaperbackDimensions:288 pages, 5.31 × 7.91 × 0.71 inPublished:September 1, 1998Publisher:Oxford University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0195124960

ISBN - 13:9780195124965

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From Our Editors

A compelling and important exploration of the nature of AIDS and those studying the disease, Viral Sex illuminates the origins and nature of this lethal disease. Providing an eyewitness account of science’s effort to understand and control the spread of the virus, the book is a fascinating journey that delves deep into the African rainforest, ancient Egypt and even the mummified remains of Barbary Apes.

Editorial Reviews

"A well-written and provocative treatise about the origins of HIV and about the evolution of this most perplexing virus."--The Lancet