Proof Positive: Finding the Cause of AIDS

In 2008, it will have been 25 years since HIV was first isolated from a patient with AIDS. In the early 1980s, when the mysterious disease of the immune system spread across the globe, scientists began a race to find the cause. Through the voices of the men and women involved, this thesis tracks the discovery of HIV from the early outbreak of a deadly epidemic to the design of therapies for a fully-defined disease. When the AIDS outbreak began, doctors and scientists had no idea what was making people sick, and the race to find a cause was a difficult and haphazard process. But it was also a successful one; scientists discovered a definite cause for the disease-the Human Immunodeficiency Virus. However, today there still remain AIDS denialists, people who do not believe HIV is the cause of AIDS. Their beliefs pose the question, why should we trust in science? This version of the history of HIV seeks to answer that question through a particular emphasis on achieving certainty in science, how the steps of the scientific process led to certainty that HIV is the cause of AIDS, through both experimental research and community acceptance.


Megan Scudellari

About Megan Scudellari

Megan is an award-winning freelance science journalist and author based in Boston, Massachusetts, specializing in the life sciences. She is a contributing editor at IEEE Spectrum and has written for the Nature, Newsweek, Bloomberg News, Scientific American, Discover, and Technology Review, among others. She worked as a health columnist for the Boston Globe (2015-2017), a contributor to Retraction Watch (2016-2017), and a correspondent then contributing editor at The Scientist magazine (2009-2014). Thesis: Proof Positive: Finding the Cause of AIDS


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