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28: Stories of AIDS in Africa Paperback – Bargain Price, May 27, 2008

4.8 out of 5 stars 24 customer reviews

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Paperback, Bargain Price, May 27, 2008
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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. According to UNAIDS, the number of HIV-infected people in Africa is 28 million. But Nolen, veteran Toronto Globe & Mail Africa bureau chief, doesn't believe it: after nine years of reporting on the epidemic, she thinks that number is conservative. Here she offers 28 searing portraits of Africans affected by the deadly virus. Scattered across the continent from the slums of Lagos, Nigeria, to the bush in southern Zambia, these Africans present a mosaic of a continent in crisis and a collective cry for help. She examines the role of soldiers, a "key vector" for AIDS, through the tale of Andualam Ayalew, a commando who was kicked out of the Ethiopian army after testing positive for HIV. He learned of AIDS prevention at a clinic and, risking arrest, returned to his unit to teach his former comrades and other soldiers about using condoms. Agnes Munyiva, a prostitute for 30 years, who has had contact with thousands of men in a slum outside Nairobi, Kenya, does not have HIV. Her natural immunity has brought doctors and researchers from as far away as Canada to study her.With a seasoned journalist's finesse, Nolen effortlessly weaves technical information—health statistics, disease data, NGO reports—into these deeply intimate glimpses of people often overlooked in the flood of contemporary media. Nolen's book packs a real emotional wallop. Photos, map. (June)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

Nolen puts a very human face on HIV/AIDS in Africa, verbally and visually. A photograph accompanies each of the book's 28 personal histories (one subject stands for one million infected people in sub-Saharan Africa). The faces in the photos appear no different than faces of everyday Americans, but that appearance belies the horrific reality of lives shredded by devastating disease. The stories, ranging from those of orphaned children on their own, struggling to keep from being raped by adult neighbors, to that of an HIV-positive beauty queen, couldn't be more illustrative of the dissimilarity of Africa to North America. To cite one example, there is 12-year-old Lefa Khoele, stuck in grade 3 because every year he has been too sick to take end-of-year exams. His is a common situation for infected African children. Nolen sees beneath the surfaces of these individuals, estranged and all but destroyed by governmental ineptitude and denial, and evinces their loves and hopes and family ties, their humanness, with which all others can identify. Chavez, Donna
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Walker & Company (May 27, 2008)
  • ISBN-10: 080271675X
  • ASIN: B0026IBY7M
  • Product Dimensions: 8.2 x 5.6 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (24 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,690,222 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
There are many tragic narrative accounts of AIDS, but Stephanie Nolen's book "28: Stories of AIDS in Africa" is particularly shocking. The reader is forced to confront the real-life human consequences of: the arms trade to Africa; the patriarchal family hierarchies which deny women access to basic health care, birth control, and autonomy over their own sexuality; the unimaginable health care resource gap between the Western world and Africa; and most disturbing, the conservative fundamentalist ideology of U.S. foreign policy and faith-based charities, which prevents dissemination of live-saving accurate medical information and condoms.

Nolen is effective at piercing the veil which readers inherently draw to insulate themselves from African AIDS carriers. You will meet HIV-positive mothers, grandmothers, and working parents trying to raise kids. You will meet bright, college-educated Africans who were living parallel lives and following career paths not unlike your own, until they were struck by AIDS. Some are church-going Christians, community leaders, or members of the educated elite. Readers interested in playing the 'blame game' will be hard pressed to find promiscuity or other so-called failings among most of the people depicted in the stories. Most of the victims practiced monogamy. You begin to appreciate the fact that we are HIV-negative not because we are morally or intellectually superior, but through the circumstances of fate and luck of being born in the West, which have granted us the 'privilege' of autonomy over our bodies, our sexual and reproductive health, and access to medical care and knowledge.
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Format: Hardcover
The introductory maps seize your attention. "Adult prevalence of HIV /AIDS" on one page and the people represented in the "stories" on the opposite. There's a swath of dark shading across southwest Africa - that's "Over 20%". To the east, the shade is lighter - "15 - 20%", with two darker smudges labelled "Swaziland" and "Lesotho" - islands of tragedy. At the top, "5 - 15%" predominates, lower numbers hiding the intensity of conditions. Stephanie Nolen's subjects' names run across the other map - the individuals whose stories are related here.

The numbers often lead to "AIDS fatigue" - too many big numbers; surpassing our ability to grasp them. The millions of people infected with HIV/AIDS seem beyond comprehension. After consulting the various estimates, Nolen surmises about 28 million for Africa, approaching the entire population of Canada. Each day, something like 5500 will die of the effects of the infection - two-thirds the population of my community. Every day. All year long. The adage runs: "One death is a tragedy, one million deaths is a statistic." Yet, that "million" represents that many "ones", and each one has a story. Nolen gives us those stories, making one person represent a million others. It's a formidable burden for the afflicted and the writer alike, but Nolen's skill effectively allows the reader to take it all in measured doses.

The opening story is, appropriately, a woman. In Swaziland, women don't turn to activism. They were traditionally forbidden to wear pants until 2003 and the right to own property was only granted in 2006. The little nation has the last monarch in Africa - who has thirteen wives and a fleet of autos. Siphiwe Hlophe had borne children with a man who delayed marriage for years.
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Format: Hardcover
Stephen Lewis, the former UN Special Envoy for AIDS in Africa, called Stephanie Nole's 28 Stories of AIDS in Africa, "the best book ever written about AIDS". I must admit that I was skeptical- how could a relatively short book of stories encapsulate this massive epidemic? By the time I'd finished the third of 28 stories, I'd changed my mind.

Nolen successfully uses 28 human experiences of HIV/AIDS, gathered over years of reporting on the issue, to tackle each aspect of the pandemic: orphans, access to treatment, medical research, AIDS in conflict zones and within the military, at-risk groups such as truck drivers and sex workers, African political and international humanitarian approaches to HIV, experiences of children, women, elites, couples, families, activists, and the poorest of the poor. Her approach left me more knowledgable, and intermittently heartbroken and ready for action. The book critically examines the role of each actor in the pandemic, from international to local in the present and since the first recorded infection. It emphasizes the complexity of the crisis, most importantly its intrinsic links to poverty, as well as including a vital section on how you can help.

Effectively, Nolen has written a book that provides an overview of the political, historical, cultural, and economic realities of HIV/AIDS in Africa while constantly drawing the reader back to one fundemental point: HIV/AIDS is first and foremost a human issue. She quotes Nelson Mandela (he is the main character in the 27th story), "Overcoming poverty is not a gesture of charity; it is an act of justice" (353).

As someone recently embedded in the fight against HIV/AIDS (I am currently writing my undergraduate thesis on prevention programs, and have just returned from 10 months working with two grassroots HIV/AIDS organizations in Ethiopia), I would recommend this to laypeople and experts alike!
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