To End a Plague: America’s Fight to Defeat AIDS in Africa

Emily Bass. PublicAffairs, $30 (496p) ISBN 978-1-5417-6243-5
Bass, a journalist and AIDS activist, debuts with a granular yet wide-ranging history of the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), “the largest disease-specific foreign aid effort in the history of [the U.S.] and the world.” She notes that President George W. Bush announced the program in the same 2003 State of the Union speech in which he outlined justifications for the invasion of Iraq; details the activism that forced drug companies to significantly reduce the price of HIV/AIDS medication, making large-scale treatment programs in low-income countries possible; and explains the origins of a “conscience clause” exempting faith-based groups that receive PEPFAR funds from providing “any services or commodities,” including condoms, that run counter to their beliefs. Drawing on multiple visits she made to Uganda between 2005 and 2019, Bass profiles patients, nurses, and doctors, and documents the logistical and cultural challenges to halting the AIDS epidemic in Africa. She also documents Deborah Birx’s efforts to revitalize PEPFAR with a data-driven approach after funding for the program hit an “all-time low” in 2013. Bass’s personal reflections occasionally distract from the larger story, and the level of detail may be overwhelming for generalists. Still, readers with a background in the subject will consider this essential. (July)
Reviewed on : 04/16/2021
Release date: 07/06/2021
Genre: Nonfiction
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