The Wisdom of Whores

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Overview

This controversial book addresses how sex and drugs have turned the global epidemic of HIV 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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Overview

This controversial book addresses how sex and drugs have turned the global epidemic of HIV 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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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal

Despite billions of dollars in funding, international HIV-prevention efforts sometimes achieve only modest results, a reality the author sums up as the triumph of politics and ideology over sound science. Combining a background in journalism with experience as an epidemiologist (who has worked with, among other organizations, UNAIDS, the World Bank, and the health ministries of several Asian governments), Pisani here presents a blunt, cynical, and even funny insider's view of global HIV-prevention efforts. When she isn't telling colorful stories, she's skewering everyone who allows ideology to overrule science, e.g., conservatives who oppose needle exchanges and the distribution of condoms despite evidence that they reduce the spread of HIV significantly; well-meaning international development professionals who argue that HIV is spread by poverty and gender inequality rather than by sex and IV drug use; and, especially, politicians who allow the epidemic to grow rather than make unpopular-but evidence-based-decisions. Though she writes in a lively journalistic style, Pisani crafts cogent arguments and supports them with detailed footnotes and an extensive bibliography. Highly recommended for all collections. [See Prepub Alert, LJ2/1/08; visit the author online at www.ternyata.org/about/index.html.-Ed.]
—Janet A. Crum

Kirkus Reviews
Savvy epidemiologist Pisani takes an eye-opening look at who gets AIDS how, when and where. The "how" hasn't changed: HIV infects via the exchange of body fluids in sex, in transfusions and contaminated needles and from mother to infant in birth or breast milk. But the author's revelations are startling. In the course of developing surveys and collecting blood samples to get an accurate reading of HIV prevalence in Southeast Asia, Pisani got to know the prostitutes, pimps, brothel owners, gays, rent boys, drug injectors and a class of transvestites (with or without genital surgery) called waria, as well as their clients. She discovered that some men and boys who consider themselves straight sell sex to other men, that whores sometimes use condoms with their johns but never with their pimps or boyfriends, that drug injectors also buy sex and have girlfriends who may also be prostitutes, that waria have loving "husbands." All those questionnaires with check-off boxes to distinguish one high-risk group from one another just don't make any sense, she concludes. Pisani paints likable portraits of many of the contacts she made as she explored the dives and street scenes in major cities. The whores are not actually very wise, she admits, but neither are the donors and administrators of government programs who demand abstinence, oppose family planning, think they can create a drug-free world and often operate in ignorance of what other groups are doing. A further dilemma goes to the heart of AIDS stigma. People give money to forestall the epidemic infection of all those innocent wives and children, but Pisani makes it clear that they are not the most vulnerable, at least on the turf she hascovered (Africa is different). She argues that the money ought to go to needle-exchange programs, condom promotion and other preventives. Delivers a strong, well-told and believable message-would that it makes a difference. Agent: Felicity Bryan/Felicity Bryan Agency
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780143167969
  • Publisher: Penguin Canada
  • Publication date: 5/12/2009
  • Pages: 400
  • Product dimensions: 5.30 (w) x 8.25 (h) x 0.94 (d)

Meet the Author

Elizabeth Pisani specializes in HIV surveillance and prevention. She has provided research, analysis, and policy advice for UNAIDS, the WHO, the World Bank, and other organizations. She is based in London.
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Table of Contents


Author's Note     xi
Acknowledgements     xiii
Preface: The Accidental Epidemiologist     1
Cooking Up an Epidemic     13
Landscapes of Desire     43
The Honesty Box     84
The Naked Truth     124
Sacred Cows     161
Articles of Faith     188
HIV Shoots Up     227
Ants in the Sugar-Bowl     269
Full Circle     301
Notes     327
Bibliography     347
Index     365
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Customer Reviews

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