Jacques Pépin awarded for Origins of AIDS
Université de Sherbrooke professor Jacques Pépin is this year’s recipient of the Radio-Canada’s “Scientist of the Year” award. He is being honoured for his ground-breaking work on HIV/AIDS and his new book The Origins of AIDS. Published in October, it has been met with critical acclaim for its contribution to understanding the history of this virus that has killed nearly 30 million people in the past 30 years.
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Radio-Canada chose Pépin for this award in order to “underline his meticulous work that has allowed us to retrace the beginnings of the virus in central Africa, and to better understand the origins of the virus,” according to their website. Pépin follows in the footsteps of biologist Joël Bêty (2010) and the psychiatrist Gustavo Turecki and psychologist Michael Meaney (2009).
Ground-breaking work in Africa
For The Origins of AIDS, Jacques Pépin exhumed colonial era medical archives in Africa and articles dating back to 1981. This research allowed him to show how HIV/AIDS first spread through the African continent (notably because of syringes used by European doctors and through prostitution), then moves on to trace its spread throughout the world, starting with the United States.
In the 1980s, Jacques Pépin practiced medicine in Africa, notably in ex- Zaïre (now the Democratic Republic of Congo). Radio-Canada underlined that he has made “many public health interventions that aimed to reduce the transmission of the virus” in several countries on the African continent.