Before this, such outbreaks would have remained localised, argues a provocative new book. But by then the “scramble for Africa” was under way and thousands of porters were crossing through the area. So it was, the authors claim, that colonisation by the European powers a century ago is responsible for unleashing HIV on the world.
And Spanish colonialism in the New World caused the syphilis/smallpox exchange, Mongol colonialism caused the Black Death and homo sapiens coming out of Africa killed the Neanderthals.
There’s nothing strange about population movements causing epidemics. To blame “colonialism” is just to attatch at trendy tag to it all: any substantial amount of economic development is going to mean an increase in population movement and thus the spread, unfortunately, of hitherto unremarked diseases.