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Adventures of a Female Medical Detective

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Adventures of a Female Medical Detective

In Pursuit of Smallpox and AIDS

"A rip-roaring read."—Nature

Fresh out of college in the 1960s, Mary Guinan aspired to be an astronaut—until she learned that NASA's astronaut program wasn't recruiting women. Instead, Guinan went to medical school and became a disease detective with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Epidemic Intelligence Service. Selected to join India's Smallpox Eradication program, Guinan traveled to remote villages to isolate smallpox cases and then vaccinate all uninfected persons within a ten-mile radius. By May 1975, the World Health Organization declared Uttar Pradesh smallpox-free.

During her barrier-breaking career, Dr. Guinan met arms-seeking Afghan insurgents in Pakistan and got caught in the crossfire between religious groups in Lebanon. She was one of the first medical detectives on the ground in San Francisco at the start of the AIDS crisis. And she served as an expert witness in a landmark decision that still protects HIV patients from workplace discrimination. Randy Shilts's best-selling book on the epidemic, And the Band Played On, features her AIDS work, as does the HBO movie of the same name.

In Adventures of a Female Medical Detective, Guinan weaves together twelve vivid stories of her life in medicine, describing her individual experiences in controlling outbreaks, researching new diseases, and caring for patients the world over. Occasionally heartbreaking, sometimes hilarious, Guinan's account of her pathbreaking career will inspire public health students and future medical detectives—and give all readers insight into that part of the government exclusively devoted to protecting their health.