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Joris Bas Backer

A Virus and its environment

The early spread of HIV

This is a HIV story that we hear about less but is equally relevant. It’s about the way in which viruses cause but are also caused by social and political change.
The main source that sparked my interest was a research article called “The early spread and epidemic ignition of HIV-1 in human populations” that was quoted in a BBC story I read. The research article was published in 2014 in Science Magazine by an international group of scientists and it uses scientific data analyis to compare the spread of HIV with social change. Doing the research for this comic meant doing an internet deep-dive into historic photos of the Congo-Kinshasa area. Sometimes it was so painful, looking at the realities of racial violence during colonial occupation. But there were also great discoveries, like the photos of Kinshasa nightlife in the 50s and 60s by photographer Jean Depara.

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