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Review: HIV/AIDS: A Very Short Intro

March 24, 2008

Book Review
HIV/AIDS: A Very Short Introduction by Alan Whiteside
Oxford University Press 2008

Reviewed by Shafinaaz Hassim

AIDS is already having a devastating impact on some countries. In Swaziland, the chance of a 15-year-old boy living to 50 years is 28%, for a girl it is just 22%. Before AIDS, it was 92% and 97% respectively. The UNDP estimated 2004 life expectancy in Botswana to be 34.9 years. Populations in some African countries are projected to decline. Reversing life expectancies and falling populations are events unknown in the past 200 years. Economists question whether economic growth is possible in these circumstances; sociologists and political scientists have not begun to consider the ramifications (Whiteside, 2008, p125)



Works such as these will seek, no doubt, to engage the readership in much debate around a topic that vilifies people. Most are afraid more of what is not known to them.

There still exists a kind of veil over the issue of HIV/AIDS and sexually transmitted diseases in general. And this may prove to be a contender for writings that reveal, without prejudice, the serious nature of understanding the dynamic of the epidemic.

Whiteside believes that HIV/AIDS will reveal itself to be a narrative for the history books in time to come, just as long as we look to the past for templates as to how previous epidemics were obliterated.

The HIV/AIDS VSI successfully reveals and interrogates the impact that the pandemic has had on people around the world, and the blurb identifies that this thought-provoking and at times polemic book explores how we can and must respond. That it manages to do so in a scientific, yet concise and easy-to-read manner is what makes the VSI range both popular and necessary as pocket-friendly sources of knowledge.


IOLS Commentary

February 27, 2008

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