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AIDS: Don't Die of Prejudice (2014)

by Norman Fowler

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Read as the UK version of And The Band Played On/The Wisdom of Whores. Norman Fowler, a former journalist who became Secretary of State for Health in Thatcher's government during the 1980s, is the man behind the 'Don't Die of Ignorance' AIDS public education campaign in 1987, the one with the monolithic headstone and the bouquet of lilies which even I remember, and I was seven. He was also, as Vernal Scott is keen to remind everyone in his self-promotional review on Amazon, in support of Thatcher's 'Clause 28' legislation, which banned the promotion of homosexuality in schools, but I think Foster's honesty and regret, not to mention his ongoing involvement in HIV/AIDS awareness charities and campaigns, makes up for past errors of judgement (and we all make those, don't we, Vernal?)

I found this account of HIV and AIDS in the UK and around the world informative and accessible - Foster doesn't have his own agenda, and unlike epidemiologist Elizabeth Pisani, manages to keep the statistics to a crucial minimum in his reporting - 35 million people worldwide are living with HIV/AIDS, with an increase over the last 25 years, and 100,000 of those are in the UK, where there have been 6400 new diagnoses in 2012.

The big message remains the same, however - despite ART for those with HIV, which means that those receiving treatment can hope to live out a normal life, HIV and AIDS are not 'yesterday's issue'. 'We need to wake up to what is happening', Foster warns - here, where an absence of prevention campaigns since the 1990s and the availability of drugs to treat HIV, mean that numbers are rising once again - and abroad, where homophobia, sex workers, and the lack of clean needles for drug users, are also responsible for high rates of infection.

Well worth reading for a UK perspective of the big disease with a little name. ( )
  AdonisGuilfoyle | Sep 7, 2016 |
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Eighteen million people around the world live with HIV but do not know they are infected. Endangering both themselves and countless others, they represent a public health challenge that affects not only Africa but every part of the world, including Europe and the United States. We stand at a tipping point in the AIDS crisis - and unless we can increase the numbers tested and treated, we will not defeat it. In spite of the progress since the 1980s there are still over 1.5 million deaths and over 2 million new HIV infections a year. Norman Fowler has travelled to nine cities around the globe to report on the position today. What he discovered was a shocking blend of ignorance, prejudice, bigotry and intolerance. In Africa and Eastern Europe, a rising tide of discrimination against gays and lesbians prevents many from coming forward for testing. In Russia, drug users are dying because an intolerant government refuses to introduce the policies that would save them. Extraordinarily, Washington has followed suit and excluded financial help for proven policies on drugs, and has turned its back on sex workers. In this lucid yet powerful account, Norman Fowler reveals the steps that must be taken to prevent a global tragedy. Aids: Don't Die of Prejudice is both an in-depth investigation and an impassioned call to arms against the greatest public health threat in the world today.… (more)

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