Bush meat huntersMystery of where AIDS came from solved? Not so fast. Last fall, we read Jacques Pépin’s theory in The Origin of AIDS. He says that HIV in humans can be traced back to about 80 chimpanzees in Africa that infected bush-meat hunters, and that the virus was then further spread through the use of nonsterile medical equipment. Now comes a new book that implicates colonization of the continent in the early 1900s as the catalyst of the global pandemic. Tinderbox, coauthored by journalist Craig Timberg and AIDS researcher Daniel Halperin, PhD, hypothesizes that without the mobility, urbanization, medical campaigns and prostitution introduced to central Africa by Europeans, the HIV-1 group M strain would’ve been a short-lived, localized outbreak in the forests of Cameroon. The theory has caused much controversy. One thing’s for sure: The multiple, complex and interrelated drivers of HIV mean the beginnings of AIDS will continue to spark interest.

To read an interview with Daniel Halperin, click here.