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(August 18, 1932 - )
Born in France
Year of Discovery: 1983
First to Find Cause of AIDS
Human immunodeficiency virus originated in West Africa, with the first confirmed case being recorded in 1959. The virus slowly spread across Africa and then, in the late 1970s and early 1980s, exploded throughout other parts of the world. HIV is the underlying cause of AIDS, a disease that attacks the immune system, and is passed from person to person through contact with bodily fluids. As AIDS progresses, individuals become less able to ward off infections and fall prey to a variety of opportunistic diseases. Among the common diseases initially associated with AIDS was Kaposi's sarcoma, a cancer that can affect both internal organs and the skin. Victims also began showing up at emergency rooms with a variety of flu-like symptoms and an unusual form of pneumonia known as pneumocystis. Health officials initially thought the disease was limited to homosexual men living in large metropolitan areas. But, they quickly discovered that both hemophiliacs and heterosexual intravenous drug users were also being infected. Not knowing the underlying cause of AIDS sent a panic throughout communities. There was a great deal of confusion about how AIDS was spread and whether it could be prevented. And, most significantly, there was no way to detect or treat it. Montagnier's discovery of HIV came at a critical time, as world health authorities struggled to contain the spread of AIDS. Based on his findings, blood tests were developed to detect the presence of HIV in blood samples. This led to direct identification of AIDS patients, who then could be treated. It also led to a means to test blood donations for the HIV virus. This testing of blood supplies has reduced the risk of acquiring HIV through a blood donation to one in 2.5 million in the United States.
Introduction by Tim Anderson
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virusmyth.com interview with Montagnier:
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