Black Death: AIDS in Africa by Susan HunterTo the surprise of many, George W. Bush pledged $10 billion to combat AIDS in developing nations. Noted specialist Susan Hunter tells the untold story of AIDS in Africa, home to 80 percent of the 40 million people in the world currently infected with HIV. She weaves together the history of colonialism in Africa, an insiders take on the reluctance of drug companies to provide cheap medication and vaccines in poor countries, and personal anecdotes from the 20 years she spent in Africa working on the AIDS crisis. Taken together, these strands make it unmistakably clear that a history of the exploitation of developing nations by the West is directly responsible for the spread of disease in developing nations and the AIDS pandemic in Africa. Hunter looks at what Africans are already doing on the ground level to combat AIDS, and what the world can and must do to help. Accessibly written and hard-hitting, Black Death brings the staggering statistics to life and paints for the first time a stunning picture of the most important political issue today.
Black Death: AIDS in Africa
Cohn, L. Black Death and AIDS are global pandemics that have captured the popular imagination, both attracting extravagant hypotheses to account for their origins and geographical distributions. Medical scientists have recently attempted to connect these two great pandemics. Some argue that the Black Death of 52 was responsible for a genetic shift that conferred a degree of resistance to HIV 1 infection, that this shift was almost unique to European descendents, and that it mirrors the intensity of Black Death mortality within Europe. Such a hypothesis is not supported by the historical evidence: the Black Death did not strike Europe alone but spread from the east, devastating regions such as China, North Africa, and the Middle East as much or even more than Europe. Further, in Europe its levels of mortality do not correspond with the geographic distribution of the proportion of descendents with this CCR5 gene.
See a Problem?
LONDON Several teams of scientists around the world have, for some time, been studying the possibility that a genetic mutation perpetuated by the organism responsible for bubonic plague, or the Black Death, in the Middle Ages - Yersinia pestis - might give people now carrying the mutation increased resistance to the Human Immunodeficiency Virus HIV compared to non-carriers. New research has thrown doubt on the micro-organism that was thought to have caused the Black Death, but the link to HIV resistance seems to remain. In their book, 'Biology of Plagues' Cambridge University Press , they proposed that the culprit was most likely a filovirus, similar to the Ebola virus. This theory is based on evidence that emerged after sifting through old parish records of the many towns affected by the plague and then tracking how the disease spread throughout Britain and Europe. So how does this link to increased resistance to HIV? They found that a genetic mutation that gives its carriers protection against the HIV virus became relatively common among white Europeans about years ago the same period that the Black Death swept into Europe. The team also concluded that the geographic cline of the mutation frequencies and its recent emergence were consistent with a strongly selective historic event such as an epidemic of a pathogen , driving its frequency upwards in populations whose ancestors survived the Black Death.