This week, I was honored with a Best Life-In-Science Award from ScienceSeeker for my article on the earliest known cases of HIV/AIDS, “The Sea Has Neither Sense Nor Pity: the Earliest Known Cases of AIDS in the Pre-AIDS Era.” There were some serious heavyweight contenders in this inaugural contest and I am beyond delighted that this fascinating story was recognized. It’s nice to be acknowledged (and rewarded!) for work that is largely spent in loud cafes while drinking bitter espresso long gone cold and staring helplessly at my computer keyboard. Thank you to the judges – Fraser Cain, Maggie Koerth-Baker, and Maryn McKenna and to ScienceSeeker for this distinction and award.
I took a risk in writing this article in a style and tone that I had never tried before. I was hoping to convey a sense of the transcendent enormity of one man’s infection with a strange new virus that had yet to sweep the world. A Norwegian sailor travels to West Africa, picked up an outlier strain of HIV and then proceeds to infect his young family and, possibly, several other women before dying of a series of chronic illnesses. I wanted this story to be a eulogy for an unknown man, his wife and young daughter, as well as a for a period in history before the emergence of HIV/AIDS.
This family is now widely recognized as the first recorded cluster of confirmed HIV/AIDS infections in the pre-AIDS era, before the AIDS pandemic sparked in the late 1970s and early 1980s. It is just one tragic story among many affected by this pandemic that could have been lost to history except for the work of Norwegian pathologists.
A little about ScienceSeeker: Bora Zivkovic at Scientific American describes it “is the main portal for collecting, connecting and filtering science writing online, especially on science blogs.” It is an exceptionally cool and vital tool for recognizing and accumulating writing on one of the world’s most dynamic disciplines. (I’m a little biased, alright?) What’s really trippy is that ScienceSeeker is the main tool used by The Library of Congress in its decision-making for preserving all science blogs. Neat, eh?
Thank you again to the judges and to ScienceSeeker, congratulations to all of the winners and finalists, and a tip of the hat to science and history. You can – and should! – check out the full list of winners and finalists at the ScienceSeeker blog here.