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HIV PIONEERS: LIVES LOST, CAREERS CHANGED, and SURVIVAL

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’I would recommend this book to anyone with an interest in HIV epidemiology, especially if they are keen to contribute to the broad-based scientific progress and the well-being of the population they are attempting to benefit.’

Title: HIV PIONEERS: LIVES LOST, CAREERS CHANGED, and SURVIVAL.

Author: Wendee M Weshsberg

Publisher: Johns Hopkins University Press

Reviewer: David Solomon, senior lecturer advanced nursing practice/ postgraduate researcher. Anglia Ruskin University. William Harvey Building. Chelmsford, Essex

What was it like?

The stories of HIV Pioneers: lives lost, careers changed, and survival provides a selection of personal narratives of the most influential pioneering scientists to the sufferers of HIV. These narratives capture Health Professionals views in battling the ill- effects of antiretroviral therapy (ARV) to family members experiencing the wrath of HIV. These ethnographies take you back in time to the 1960’s, 70’s and the global AIDS epidemic of the 1980’s. These pioneers describe the evolution of anti-retroviral treatments and the speculation of the drug Zidovudine AZT. These chronicles of the past also explore the newer developments of protease inhibitors, harm reduction and harm minimisation of those that battle HIV to this very day.

What were the highlights?

A powerful chapter on “That AZT kills patients” (monotherapy at that time) provides narratives on the challenge’s health professionals faced in clinical practice, often likened to the ‘medical maze’. This chapter describes how a patient ‘Lamar’ once professed “I don’t want to leave here in a box, Doc” thus, decided to fight against the 1980s AZT (azidothymidine) recommended standalone regime for HIV, (as many HIV sufferers died as a result of the AZT regime) and commenced on highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART) in the 1990’s to live a well-fulfilled life. Another highlight for me is the chapter on a nurses needlestick accident- that launched healthcare work safety. This section describes, in-depth the stigma and discrimination faced by HIV sufferers as a result of a needlestick injury and haemophiliac- related cases.

Strengths & weaknesses:

Wendee’s book is written in an easy to read style, however, some of the chapters on the ‘founders’ of the AIDS virus could have been more connected in respect of Dr Barre- Sinoussi and Dr Gallo’s positioning in the 1980’s. However, this is a minor criticism of a generally well written and informed book.

Who should read it?

I would recommend this book to anyone with an interest in HIV epidemiology, especially if they are keen to contribute to the broad-based scientific progress and the well-being of the population they are attempting to benefit.

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