Business Day, 06 December 2002, Authors tackle AIDS on different levels

THREE powerful books on HIV/AIDS are on the bookshelves. AIDS in the 21st Century Disease and Globalisation, by Tony Barnett and Alan Whiteside (Pan MacMillan, R160) is about the social and economic effects of HIV and AIDS, the consequences of the failure to respond, what we must learn from the pandemic and what should be done.

The authors, who have researched the pandemic since 1986, say there is a need to look beyond individual to social and economic conditions, to see health as more than medicine and to understand the meaning of wellbeing.

Globalisation has accelerated the spread of the disease due to the rapid acceleration of communication, the rapidity with which desire is reconstructed and marketed globally, and the inequalities that exist between societies, the authors say.

The book tables the incidence of HIV and AIDS in Africa; Latin America; north America, Europe, Australia and New Zealand; eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union; and in Asia.

The authors examine the disease and its epidemiology, susceptibility, look at why it is rife in Africa, and the aftermath on orphans and the elderly, rural people, business, government and governance.

Another book, Impacts and Interventions The HIV/AIDS Epidemic and the Children of SA, edited by Jeff Gow and Chris Desmond (University of Natal Press, R120), provides a definitive analysis of the effect of HIV and AIDS on children and the response of families, communities and government.

This book contains contributions from foremost AIDS experts, covering epidemiology, demographics, health, education, treatment and intervention.

On a more personal level Nkosi's Story, by Jane Fox (Spearhead, R99,95) will not fail to warm the heart. It tells the story of the boy who was adopted when his biological mother was dying, and who became a national hero after speaking at a conference on AIDS in Durban.

The author has done exhaustive research, melding the story of a child with homework to do and friends to make with the larger concerns and challenges of being HIV-positive.

Told with wit, empathy and keen observation, this is an intimate and moving story.