THE INVISIBLE PEOPLE: How the U.S. Has Slept Through the Global AIDS Pandemic, the Greatest Humanitarian Catastrophe of Our Time

Greg Behrman, Author
Greg Behrman, Author . Free Press $25 (368p) ISBN 978-0-7432-5755-8
Paperback - 372 pages - 978-1-4391-5735-0
Ebook - 368 pages - 978-1-4391-0361-6
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According to Behrman, although tremendous progress has been made since the 1980s in prevention and treatment of AIDS, woefully little has reached the developing world, where it is needed most. By 2010, largely because of AIDS, many countries in sub-Saharan Africa will see average life expectancies reduced to 30 years or lower, and the continent will be home to an estimated 20 million AIDS orphans; societies and economies will face unimaginable devastation. Much could have been done to avert this catastrophe, writes Behrman, if wealthy nations—particularly the U.S.—had funded global AIDS initiatives years ago. Behrman, coordinator for the Council on Foreign Relations Roundtable on Improving U.S. Global AIDS Policy, argues that several factors contributed to this neglect: the discomfort among conservatives in addressing the subject of AIDS; the initial reluctance of African leaders themselves to acknowledge the crisis; the efforts of drug companies to block cheap generic medicines; and, most disturbingly, the feeling that Africa's problems are simply too overwhelming for the West to bother with. Behrman chronicles the tireless efforts of public health officials, politicians, the U.N., and even superstar Bono to bring attention to the crisis and to demand action, while policy makers wavered and infection rates soared. In time, it was not the sympathetic Bill Clinton but the moralistic George W. Bush who finally pledged significant monies—$15 billion—to the Global AIDS Fund. Behrman's account, impassioned but fair, describes a moral failure that escalated to tragic dimensions because we allowed its victims to remain invisible for too long. Agent, Jennifer Joel. (June)

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