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Doody's Review ServiceReviewer: John A. Robinson, MD (Loyola University Stritch School of Medicine)
Description: This book is written by specialists from three continents. Some of the authors are authorities in HIV; others may be well known throughout Africa and in some parts of the WHO community, but they do not have a high visibilty in the U.S. The format is traditional without any unique features.
Purpose: The purpose is apparently (although it is only implied) to highlight unusual or unique features of HIV in Africa.
Audience: The intended audience is infectious disease specialists and some public health personnel.
Features: This book has more than the usual amount of flaws encountered in a multiauthored book. It is not current, with most of its references dating to 1991 or earlier. The quality of the chapters is very uneven; strikingly, almost a third of the book is devoted to HIV knowledge that is not unique to Africa. Put another way, the book is overblown and could have been written in a much more concise fashion with a secondary benefit of reducing its extraordinary price of $160 to something in a morereasonable range. Its scientific content is immediately tarnished by the almost inevitable politicized introduction by a journalist; however, some chapters are quite valuable, especially chapter 5 and most in chapters in section 2. Conversely, there are several very poor chapters, especially the one in which the author provides five good reasons why estimates and projections of HIV in sub-Sahara Africa are almost impossible to make and then proceeds to write 15 pages making projections!Finally, chapter 27 on the economic importance of AIDS is an extraordinary exercise in fantasy. The economics of Africa, per se, are not understood in the least, but the author attempts to relate that non-knowledge to the effects of a disease that is very difficult to predict.
Assessment: Some chapters in this book will be valuable for readers interested in the uniqueness of African AIDS, but other than those, the book is not very useful.