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Side Effects: The Story of AIDS in South Africa

Side Effects: The Story of AIDS in South Africa

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Why does South Africa have one of the worst AIDS epidemics in the world, and why have all attempts to deal with it led to deepening controversy and strife? "Side Effects" is a historical account that gets to grip with these vexing questions. It explains how, and why, AIDS conquered one of the richest countries on the African continent. Written in fast-moving journalistic style, it is a tale of the failures of presidents and people; of the legacy of apartheid; of bureaucratic indifference and corporate greed. It lays bare the lost opportunities and fateful decisions that led to mass death at a time when medical and social science had cleared the way to the prevention and treatment of the worst disease ever to have afflicted humankind. Above all, it is the biography of an extraordinary virus. A virus that enters a society, just as it enters the body, at its weakest point: an opportunistic virus that has triumphed over the vulnerabilities of a country in transition. Based on extensive research and in-depth interviews with key players, this book provides the background to current political controversies about the government's AIDS programme. It also gives the first credible explanation for President Mbeki's flirtation with the AIDS denialists - a departure that reopened the scientific debate on AIDS at a global level, and has set back South Africa's AIDS response by many years.