Infections and Inequalities: The Modern Plagues / Edition 1

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Paul Farmer has battled AIDS in rural Haiti and deadly strains of drug-resistant tuberculosis in the slums of Peru. A physician-anthropologist with more than fifteen years in the field, Farmer writes from the front lines of the war against these modern plagues and shows why, even more than those of history, they target the poor. This "peculiarly modern inequality" that permeates AIDS, TB, malaria, and typhoid in the modern world, and that feeds emerging (or re-emerging) infectious diseases such as Ebola and cholera, is laid bare in Farmer's harrowing stories of sickness and suffering.

Challenging the accepted methodologies of epidemiology and international health, he points out that most current explanatory strategies, from "cost-effectiveness" to patient "noncompliance," inevitably lead to blaming the victims. In reality, larger forces, global as well as local, determine why some people are sick and others are shielded from risk. Yet this moving account is far from a hopeless inventory of insoluble problems. Farmer writes of what can be done in the face of seemingly overwhelming odds, by physicians determined to treat those in need. Infections and Inequalities weds meticulous scholarship with a passion for solutions—remedies for the plagues of the poor and the social maladies that have sustained them.

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Editorial Reviews

Christian Century
[Farmer's] message is urgent and relevant for saving millions of lives.
Library Journal
Farmer is a physician-anthropologist who directs the Program in Infectious Disease and Social Change at Harvard Medical School. He also has clinical practices in Boston and in Haiti, where he has done extensive fieldwork with Haiti's rural poor. Aiming to explain why infectious diseases such as AIDS and tuberculosis target the poor, he fills his new work with harrowing public-health case studies of the pathogenic effects of poverty and other grim social conditions. Farmer provides a well-referenced analysis of everything from cell-mediated immunity to healthcare access issues. The studies outlined show that extreme poverty, filth, and malnutrition are associated with infectious disease and what attitudes and behaviors contribute to the lack of understanding about disease. Arguing that the predictors of patient compliance are fundamentally "economic not cognitive or cultural," he builds a powerful and persuasive argument for a proactive multinational program to defuse the "infectious disease time-bomb." Highly recommended for all medical school library collections and any collection concerned with public-health issues.--Rebecca Cress-Ingebo, Wright State Univ Libs., Dayton, OH Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780520229136
  • Publisher: University of California Press
  • Publication date: 2/23/2001
  • Edition description: Updated with New Preface
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 419
  • Sales rank: 179,395
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 1.13 (d)

Meet the Author

Paul Farmer

Paul Farmer directs the Program in Infectious Disease and Social Change at the Harvard Medical School and divides his clinical time between Boston's Brigham and Women's Hospital and the Clinique Bon Sauveur in central Haiti. He is the author of AIDS and Accusation (California, 1992), which was awarded the Wellcome Medal, and The Uses of Haiti (1994), and editor of Women, Poverty and AIDS (1996), which won the Eileen Basker Prize.
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Table of Contents

Introduction 1
1 The Vitality of Practice: On Personal Trajectories 18
2 Rethinking "Emerging Infectious Diseases" 37
3 Invisible Women: Class, Gender, and HIV 59
4 The Exotic and the Mundane: Human Immunodeficiency Virus in the Caribbean 94
5 Culture, Poverty, and HIV Transmission: The Case of Rural Haiti 127
Miracles and Misery: An Ethnographic Interlude 150
6 Sending Sickness: Sorcery, Politics, and Changing Concepts of AIDS in Rural Haiti 158
7 The Consumption of the Poor: Tuberculosis in the Late Twentieth Century 184
8 Optimism and Pessimism in Tuberculosis Control: Lessons from Rural Haiti 211
9 Immodest Claims of Causality: Social Scientists and the "New" Tuberculosis 228
10 The Persistent Plagues: Biological Expressions of Social Inequalities 262
Notes 283
References 319
Index 369
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 6 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 6 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted February 7, 2012



    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 19, 2006

    horribly fantastic

    Like all of Paul Farmer's books he speaks with the authority of one who lives what he preaches. His experience as an anthropologist and clinician enable him to give a unique perspective on the position of the poor in the world. Infections and Inequalities makes you want to put down the book and get to work helping the forgotten. Great book, as always, from Farmer.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 3, 2000


    This book really opened my eyes on how the poor are inevitably affected with diseases such as AIDS and TB. I did spend a lot of time in the dictionary but it was worth it. Not only do I understand more the world's poor and why they will continue to be subjected to infectious diseases, I learned many new words. The personal stories that the author included made his book come to life. They were really helpful in driving his points across.

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    Posted March 3, 2012

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    Posted July 25, 2013

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    Posted November 12, 2009

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