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It Takes a Genome: How a Clash Between Our Genes and Modern Life Is Making Us Sick by Greg Gibson

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From HIV to AIDS

I would hazard a guess that most Americans have never met a person suffering from AIDS. Perhaps they have heard about an old college friend after the fact, or know of a distant relative, but the closest they have come to the disease is through Tom Hanks’s character, Andrew Beckett, in the movie Philadelphia: Remember the stoic conversations with his mother about T-cell counts, the harrowing operatic aria, the intolerance and fear mirrored in reactions to the purplish blotches of Kaposi’s sarcoma, and the dramatic final courtroom collapse? Yet we never really learn exactly how the disease takes his life.

Unlike most viruses, HIV does its damage indirectly. By disabling the cellular immune system, it allows all manner of opportunistic ...

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