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The invisible cure : Africa, the West, and the fight against AIDS
Helen Epstein
Adult Nonfiction RA643.86.A35 E674 2007

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From Publishers' Weekly:

Epstein, a public health specialist and molecular biologist who has worked on AIDS vaccine research, overturns many of our received notions about why AIDS is rampant in Africa and what to do about it. She charges that Western governments and philanthropists, though well-meaning, have been wholly misguided, and that Africans themselves, who understand their own cultures, often know best how to address HIV in their communities. Most significant is Epstein's discussion of concurrent sexual relations in Africa. Africans often engage in two or three long-term concurrent relationships-which proves more conducive to the spread of AIDS than Western-style promiscuity. Persuade Africans to forgo concurrency for monogamy, and the infection rate plummets, as it did in Uganda in the mid-1990s. On the other hand, ad campaigns focused on condom use helped imply falsely that only prostitutes and truck drivers get AIDS. In addition, Epstein examines what she calls the "African earthquake": social and economic upheaval that have also eased the spread of HIV. Epstein is a lucid writer, translating abstruse scientific concepts into language nonspecialists can easily grasp. Provocative, passionate and incisive, this may be the most important book on AIDS published this year-indeed, it may even save lives. (May) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

From Library Journal:

Despite attempts by aid groups and local and Western governments, the AIDS epidemic in eastern and southern Africa rages on. These distinctive but complementary books aim to explain why AIDS in Africa has proved to be such an intractable problem. Epstein, a molecular biologist who has worked as a researcher, writer, and consultant on AIDS in Africa, explores the nature and underlying causes of the epidemic there. She analyzes why AIDS is so prevalent in Africa, focusing on the political and economic changes that ignited the epidemic as well as the social and sexual customs that fuel it. To Epstein's mind, there is plenty of blame to go around, e.g., concurrent sexual relationships, lack of women's rights, and failed political leadership. She also turns a critical eye to various attempts to slow the epidemic, contrasting the success of early public education campaigns in Uganda with other, less successful attempts. She concludes that the most promising efforts are locally developed projects that address risky behaviors openly and pragmatically, in ways that reflect local cultures and foster a spirit of mutual support and communication. While Epstein focuses on the social, political, economic, and sexual elements, Nolen (Africa bureau chief, Toronto's Globe and Mail; Promised the Moon) gives the epidemic a human face--more precisely, 28 human faces, one for each million Africans estimated to be infected with HIV. Ill healthcare workers and activists are portrayed along with ordinary Africans whose lives have been forever changed by AIDS. Nolen tells their stories simply and elegantly, blending their personal experiences with relevant background information about the epidemic. Never sentimental, she lets the people and their experiences speak for themselves. The result is both an informative and a powerful read, which will help Western readers connect personally with a crisis that too often seems remote. Though these books cover similar ground, each makes a unique, valuable contribution to the literature on this important topic. Both are highly recommended for all collections.--Janet A. Crum, Oregon Health & Science Univ. Lib., Portland (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

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