Book claims to date back origins of AIDS to World War I

WION Web Team
Ottawa, Canada Updated: Feb 09, 2021, 07:26 PM IST


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In the book, author and Canadian microbiologist Jacques Pepin appeared to have traced the beginning of the AIDS epidemic to a starving World War I soldier, who captured and ate infected animals, according to different media reports

If a new book is to be believed, Acquired Immuno Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS) seems to have begun during World War I.  

In the book, author and Canadian microbiologist Jacques Pepin appeared to have traced the beginning of the AIDS epidemic to a starving World War I soldier, who captured and ate infected animals, according to different media reports. 

The disease, which is caused by the human immunodeficiency virus infection (HIV), was officially designated an epidemic on June 5, 1981. Be it as an illness or a source of discrimination, the disease has greatly affected humanity. 

Titled 'Origins of AIDS', the book says patient zero was one of 1,600 Belgian and French soldiers, who traveled to Cameroon from Leopoldville in the Belgian Congo. The soldier had got injured after killing a chimpanzee infected with something similar to the precursor to HIV - the virus that causes AIDS. 

The book looks to correct a previous version of HIV origin, introduced in the first edition of the tome released in 2011.  

In the earlier edition, Pepin claimed HIV was transmitted from monkeys to humans after an injured African hunter killed a beast in 1921 and was infected in the process. 

Now, the microbiologist looks to suggest it was actually a starving WWI soldier, who captured and ate an infected chimpanzee after his regiment got stuck in a forest around Moloundou, Cameroon, without any food supplies. 

Since the declaration of the epidemic in 1981, the disease has infected about 76 million people globally and has killed an estimated 33 million. 

The illness is caused by the HIV virus, which jumped from primates to humans in the early-to-mid 20th century in Africa. The disease is transmitted by blood transfusions, shared needles, sexual contact, and in the uterus from mother to child.