In the 1980s, scientists and clinicians were grappling with one of deadliest outbreaks in modern history. Large numbers of patients were dying from uncommon types of pneumonia, cancer, and infections of the lymph nodes. It seemed that some sort of immune system disorder was sweeping through the population. This was the official beginning of the AIDS pandemic, an outbreak that would go on to kill an estimated 39 million people worldwide.
It was a December day like any other in the village of Meliandou: a remote outcrop in the densely forested region of southern Guinea. And a young boy named Emile Ouamouno was playing by a tree filled with fruit bats.
Identical twins James Springer and James Lewis met for the first time at the age of 39. Both men had been given up by their biological mother in 1940, had been adopted separately at 1 month old, and had gone on to live independent lives, never meeting until 1979. And yet, when they did meet, the pair discovered something astonishing.