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Edited by Alexander Irwin, Joyce Millen, Dorothy Fallows. MA: Cambridge, 2003, $19.00, pp 296. ISBN 0-89608-673-9
The authors of Global AIDS: myths and facts subtitle their work, Tools for fighting the AIDS pandemic. Indeed, they argue that “informed, determined activism can make a difference” and urge their readers to “get involved in the ongoing effort” to end the AIDS pandemic (page 184). Given this raison d’etre it comes as no surprise that much of their text is devoted to providing practical information that readers can use to educate themselves on a comprehensive array of AIDS issues ranging from vaccine development to drug pricing to organisational corruption as an impediment to expanding HIV prevention and treatment programmes.
At the heart of this volume is a sincere effort to debunk myths and misconceptions that interfere with efforts to systematically and comprehensively tackle the global AIDS epidemic. Readers who are knowledgeable about HIV/AIDS may have difficulty acclimating to the use of “myths” as the unifying construct of the text, as at times, they are, of necessity, overstated (for example, “A vaccine will soon be available to prevent HIV infection”, “AIDS is primarily an African problem,” etc). Also, one wishes that the editing might have been more careful—a few of the US statistics cited in chapter one are incorrect. For example, it is not accurate that “in 2001 for every AIDS case diagnosed among gay and bisexual men in the U.S. two were diagnosed among heterosexual men or women” (page 14).
In summary, this book provides an accessible overview of the important policy issues facing communities in their struggle to take collective action against AIDS. Readers are provided with informational resources and offered practical recommendations that can help them confront what is undoubtedly the single most important global health crisis of our lifetime. Its message of continued effort in the face of adversity is particularly welcome.