4 Essential Books about HIV and AIDS

With World AIDS Day approaching, I thought I would highlight a few of the essential books available about HIV and AIDS. Together they cover a wide range of issues from the personal to the structural, offering invaluable insight into the lives of people living with HIV or AIDS, and the impact of a 30 year epidemic on societies, governments, and economies.  While the  HIV/AIDS pandemic is not new news, and for too many, not a central concern, we have the ability to end new HIV infections through the power of knowledge.  This year new HIV infections dropped by 20% on aggregate.  Lets keep the issue alive and work towards 50% by encouraging more people to learn about and discuss HIV/AIDS.

Below I have listed 4 of the books that have been personally influential with regard to my understanding of, and connection to HIV and AIDS. While I have since spent a considerable amount of time working with AIDS organizations in North America and Africa, I continue to turn back to these works as a source of inspiration and knowledge.  Each book is linked to its respective Amazon page in case anyone is interested in purchasing.

28: Stories of AIDS in Africa

28: Stories of AIDS in Africa by Stephanie Nolan

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 personal stories present a mosaic of a continent in crisis and the stories of resiliency needed to overcome the epidemic. 

Race Against Time: Searching for Hope in AIDS-Ravaged Africa

Race Against Time: Searching for Hope in AIDS-Ravaged Africa by Stephen Lewis, the former UN Special Envoy for HIV/AIDS.

At the 2006 International AIDS Conference in Toronto, I had the privilege of being one of a few to watch Stephen Lewis read the opening excerpts from A Race Against Time: “I have spent the last four years watching people die.”  With these words, diplomat, UN Special Envoy and humanitarian Stephen Lewis begins to recount his experiences addressing HIV/AIDS from within the United Nations.  He highlights key goals, and many of the reasons why to date we have fallen exceptionally short of reaching them.  The brilliance of this book, however, lies not in its critique of past failures but in its vision of redemption driven by actionable and attainable solutions.

AIDS Sutra: Untold Stories from India

AIDS Sutra: Untold Stories from India forwarded by Amartya Sen, Introduced by Bill and Melinda Gates.

India is home to almost 3 million HIV cases, but AIDS is still stigmatized and shrouded in denial. Discrimination against HIV-affected individuals in hospitals, schools, and even among families is common, just as discussion about HIV and participation in prevention or treatment programs are not. In this riveting book, sixteen of India’s most well-known writers go on the road to uncover the reality of AIDS in India and tell the human stories behind the epidemic.

The Wisdom Of Whores

The Wisdom Of Whores by Elizabeth Pisani

This controversial book addresses how sex and drugs have turned the global HIV/AIDS epidemic into a billion-dollar-a-year industry. Epidemiologist Elizabeth Pisani takes a no-holdsbarred approach to finding out exactly why 40 million people are living with HIV and 28 million have already died of AIDS when we have the knowledge, the money, and the means to wipe out the disease in 90 percent of the world.


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Categories: Health



  1. Stephen Lewis weighs in on the 2010 UNAIDS Report and on the State of the HIV/AIDS Pandemic « Notes from the Field - November 29, 2010

    […] Stephen Lewis is the Author of the Race Against Time: Searching for Hope in AIDS-Ravaged Africa and the Director of the Stephen Lewis Foundation. To learn about other worthwhile books about HIV/AIDS, please read: 4 Essential Books about HIV and AIDS. […]

  2. ‘Slow Progressers’ could be the key to new HIV treatment « Notes from the Field - December 13, 2010

    […] To learn more about HIV/AIDS, check out 4 Essential Books about HIV and AIDS! […]

  3. Culture and Development Reading List « Notes from the Field - December 22, 2010

    […] and New Creative Community. If those aren’t enough readings, however, check out my list of Essential Books about HIV and AIDS or feel free to leave a […]

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