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"In the year 2000 the World Health Organization estimated that 85 percent of fifteen-year-olds in Botswana would eventually die of AIDS. In Saturday Is for Funerals we learn why that won't happen." "Unity Dow and Max Essex tell the true story of lives ravaged by AIDS - of orphans, bereaved parents, and widows; of families who devote most Saturdays to the burial of relatives and friends. We witness the actions of community leaders, medical professionals, research scientists, and educators of all types to see how an unprecedented epidemic of death and destruction is being stopped in its tracks." This book describes how a country responded in a time of crisis. In the true-life stories of loss and quiet heroism, activism and scientific initiatives, we learn of new techniques that dramatically reduce rates of transmission from mother to child, new therapies that can save the lives of many infected with AIDS, and intricate knowledge about the spread of HIV, as well as issues of confidentiality, distributive justice, and human rights. The experiences of Botswana offer practical lessons, along with the critical element of hope.
A decade ago, the AIDS epidemic in the southern African country had gotten so bad that leaders feared its people were in danger of extinction; the World Health Organization estimated that 85 percent of 15 year olds would eventually die of the disease. Today, Botswana is the pride of Africa. The country's remarkable journey is detailed in Saturday Is for Funerals, a new book by renowned AIDS activist Unity Dow and researcher Max Essex. Weaving together personal anecdotes and medical history, the authors reveal how a combination of proactive government intervention, education, research, and foreign aid have achieved the near impossible...Bringing Saturday Is for Funerals to life—and distinguishing it from other books about AIDS in Africa—are its first-hand, often heart-wrenching stories of the epidemic's victims...[Dow] shares evocative stories of marriages torn apart by the disease, and saved through drug therapy, of tribal leaders encouraging circumcision to reduce infection, and of AIDS orphans.
— Danielle Friedman
Unity Dow, a judge of the Interim Independent Constitutional Dispute Resolution Court of Kenya, and Max Essex, a Harvard professor of health sciences, have worked at the Botswana-Harvard Partnership to control, contain, and curtail the HIV/AIDS epidemic that has devastated Botswana. In this informative book, they present the many difficulties they face—medical, cultural, psychological, and financial.
— Barbara Fisher
The epidemic of HIV and AIDS marching across Africa is threatening to crush entire countries under its weight. Saturday Is for Funerals tells the story of how one country, Botswana, is stemming the epidemic with bold political leadership, a strategic and scientific approach, and more than a little grit.
— Priya Shetty
The book is compelling because it tells us the real stories of people living with HIV/Aids and the devastating effects it has on families. There are stories of deadly sexual betrayal and bitterness, but also resilience, caring and kindness...This hook is then used to engage the reader and explain the science behind the disease in a generally accessible way. It is a work of both literature and science and works brilliantly.
— Pádraig Carmody
A compelling look at the toll of AIDS in Africa and some hopeful developments.
— Vanessa Bush
Tragic and heartwrenching stories of victims, coupled with scientific explanations, are effectively woven into chapters on mother-to-child transmission, fear of diagnosis, AIDS in children, highly active antiretroviral therapy, drug resistance and toxicities, stigma, and orphans. The book comes at a critical time as news of HIV/AIDS "donor fatigue" makes headlines, and funding to battle AIDS in Africa is shrinking. This is very important reading for politicians, educators, students, and those seeking an education on humankind's greatest plague.
— P. Wermager
Dow and Essex bring their distinct and complementary knowledge of HIV infection in southern Africa into a book that effectively depicts both the personal and the scientific facets of the Botswana AIDS epidemic...The science is competently explained in terms that a lay person could understand, and the combination works well, making this book a good introduction to the key facts about HIV/AIDS as well as a moving depiction of the individual tragedies this disease can inflict...This book would be worthwhile reading for people who want to learn more about the HIV epidemic but would never pick up a textbook or scientific article...In my view, this book should be compulsory reading for policy makers and leaders throughout Africa, who often appear to be unaccountably remote from the suffering of ordinary people in their countries.
— Sarah Rowland-Jones
Unity Dow and Max Essex illuminate the AIDS epidemic in sub-Saharan Africa by reporting on its consequences for the lives of those living in a single country, Botswana. Dow is a human rights lawyer and judge. Essex is an AIDS scientist at Harvard University. They have deployed their complementary experiences to examine multiple aspects of AIDS, dividing each chapter in half. Dow describes the personal stories of those affected by AIDS. She creates play scripts of conversation to situate the issue at hand—AIDS among children, access to medicines, fear and stigma, diagnosis—in a context that illustrates the intimacy and tragedy of the epidemic. Essex follows up with a scientific explanation of the preceding drama, together with his own reflections abpout what is being done to prevent such an episode from happening again. It is an effective strategy, drawing the reader into the particular culture of AIDS in Botswana, while showing what the global medical research enterprise into HIV can deliver for people who live in often excruciating poverty.
— Richard Horton