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The Invisible Cure: Africa, the West, and…

The Invisible Cure: Africa, the West, and the Fight Against AIDS

by Helen Epstein

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  1. 00
    And the Band Played On: Politics, People, and the AIDS Epidemic by Randy Shilts (espertus)
    espertus: Two interesting books on the spread of AIDS in two very different locations and times. "And the Band Played On" is about the emergence of AIDS, with a focus on the San Francisco gay community in the 1980s, which the author was a part of, and the (non-)response by the American government. "The Invisible Cure" is about governments' and NGOs' responses to AIDS in African countries in the 1990s and early 2000s, with varying degrees of success based on different levels of understanding of the problem and effectiveness in directing resources.… (more)

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One of the better HIV books I've read recently. Epstein writes well and although this is information-heavy, it moves right along and I was sorry when I finished.

Epstein's focus is on infrastructure misunderstandings about African HIV transmission and faulty prevention and intervention strategies based on incorrect assumptions. She updates the reader on relatively new theories of HIV's origins and early spread (including a very clear explanation of how passaging strengthens a virus). She answers the important questions that were not addressed in Togarasei et al.'s [b:The Faith Sector and HIV/AIDS in Botswana: Responses and Challenges|12210327|The Faith Sector and HIV/AIDS in Botswana Responses and Challenges|Lovemore Togarasei|http://photo.goodreads.com/books/1327958008s/12210327.jpg|17183292], which are What did sexual partnerships look like prior to the arrival of Christianity, and does that affect HIV transmission patterns? Her answers are that in many of the areas currently hardest hit by HIV, polygamy/polyandry was socially acceptable, and that concurrent long-term partnerships may spread HIV more effectively than serial monogamy. If that's hard to picture, she's included a flip book. Really. It's the only scientific treatise I've ever seen with a flip book, and it's quite effective.

The last couple of chapters are less-well integrated and read more like articles. The last chapter ends abruptly and disappointingly. I would have liked at least a summary of the book's main recommendations. ( )
  OshoOsho | Mar 30, 2013 |
Everything I wanted to know about HIV/AIDS and how it functions in Uganda. Written in a way that anyone can understand the complexities of this disease. ( )
  ckoller | Feb 18, 2009 |
An interesting book about how Westerners naively or negligently misunderstood how HIV spread in Africa, spending huge amounts of money on relatively ineffective responses. I found particularly interesting how different African nations responded to the AIDS epidemic and the different consequences. Some of the later chapters read more like standalone essays, rather than part of a cohesive whole, but all of the book was interesting. ( )
  espertus | Nov 27, 2008 |
One of the better AIDS books. Very well written and really quite engaging. Struggles, though, between the desire to follow the science and the need not to be TOO politically incorrect. Ultimately, Epstein believes that the behaviours that spread AIDS in Africa will only change when communities organise to foster that change. I think she perhaps understates the influence that political leadership can have over communities. ( )
  ElizabethPisani | Apr 19, 2008 |
After working in Namibia with the Peace Corps from 2004-2006, I have a pretty good knowledge of the HIV/AIDS situation. However, I always find it difficult to annunciate my thoughts on HIV to people who ask me about my time there. With this book, I now have an excellent method of education. This book is a very insightful picture of the situation on the ground in developing countries where HIV is a major issue. Epstein has spent time on the ground and accurately records her experiences in Africa while bringing to light the corruption and waste inherent in the system. Part of the effectiveness of the book comes from her exclusive focus on Africa and African culture which helps the reader to understand why the rate there is so high. Although the reader may be more frustrated with the issue of HIV/AIDS in general, the average reader will have a much better idea of the complexity of the situation after reading this book. ( )
  pbirch01 | Sep 18, 2007 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0374281521, Hardcover)

In 1993, Helen Epstein, a scientist working with a biotechnology company searching for an AIDS vaccine, moved to Uganda, where she witnessed firsthand the suffering caused by the epidemic. Now, in her unsparing and illuminating account of this global disease, she describes how international health experts, governments, and ordinary Africans have struggled to understand the rapid and devastating spread of the disease in Africa, and traces the changes wrought by new medical developments and emerging political realities. It is an account of scientific discovery and intrigue with implications far beyond the fight against one tragic disease.
The AIDS epidemic is partly a consequence of the rapid transition of African societies from an agrarian past to an impoverished present. Millions of African people have yet to find a place in an increasingly globalized world, and their poverty and social dislocation have generated an earthquake in gender relations that deeply affects the spread of HIV. But Epstein argues that there are solutions to this crisis, and some of the most effective ones may be simpler than many people assume.
Written with conviction, knowledge, and insight, Why Don't They Listen? will change how we think about the worst health crisis of the past century, and our strategies for improving global public health.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:04:34 -0400)

(see all 3 descriptions)

"The Invisible Cure will change the way we think about AIDS, a disease without precedent; and it will change the way we think about Africa and Africans, whose insight, wisdom, and care for the stranger will be as crucial as money and medical know-how if they are to overcome this terrible health crisis."--BOOK JACKET.… (more)

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