Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs

Jorge Varanda ─ Strange Bedfellows: Virology, Historical Epidemiology, Anthropology and Colonial History in the Study of the Epidemic Spread of HIV-2 in West Africa

Thursday, April 12, 2018

12 p.m. – 1:30 p.m.

Joukowsky Forum

Most explanations for the epidemic spread of HIV-2 (the lesser known AIDS virus affecting 1.5 million) casually suggest migrations, urbanization, war, commercial sex, STDs and biomedicine as underlying reasons, but present little or no evidence to substantiate or differentiate them. 

By complementing historical epidemiology and virology with history and anthropology this talk shows that disease and epidemics do not occur in a void or play out in independent computer models. The messy world of society, with its socio-cultural, economic and political influences, is thus central to understanding HIV epidemics. A thorough examination of historical developments and their link to virological research provides new evidence for understanding the emergence of HIV-2 and its role in the AIDS epidemic.

Africa Initiative

Jorge Varanda is a FLAD/Michael Teague Visiting Professor at Brown University. He is a medical anthropologist interested in biomedical care actions in portuguese-speaking Africa. He worked on public health programs by a colonial diamond company, a century of anti-sleeping sickness measures, implemented a verbal autopsy protocol for the Research Centre for Health of Angola and is starting a research on urban malaria.