Wednesday, October 18th 2017

A book that changed my life: 28 Stories of Aids in Africa

28 stories of aidsWestern apathy about Aids in Africa can be changed into action via personal stories

BY CASSANDRA MINO — Thanks to high profile celebrities such as Bono, and Bill and Melinda Gates, most North Americans are aware that there is an AIDS crisis in Africa. However, I am certain that most people living outside of the continent feel removed from the tragedy and thus can easily overlook the immense devastation that is occurring every day.

28: Stories of AIDS in Africa changes this dynamic by forcing us to look the crisis directly in the eye. It took me through the history, the cultures, the impacts, the responses, the research, the gains, the failures and the lives of 28 real people – one for every million estimated to be living with HIV/AIDS today in Africa.

Journalist Stephanie Nolen immersed me in the world of AIDS – the disease that thrives in instances of power imbalances and takes hold in our most intimate moments.

After briefing readers on the AIDS pandemic and the destruction it is wreaking in Africa, Nolen introduces 28 brave people from areas throughout the continent. I found that it is the words of these people that affected me the most.

We meet people like: Mohammed Ali, a truck driver who estimates that he’s had sex with 100,000 women during his thirty years on the road; Lydia Mungherera, a doctor; Gideon Byamugisha, a priest and Thokozane Mthiyane, a gifted athlete.

Their mini-biographies succeed in introducing real people who have been directly impacted by AIDS. In getting to know these 28 people I came to understand the complexity of the disease on the continent. Long-standing stereotypes are addressed and broken through by candid and open discussion between the author and these men, women and children.

No matter what your opinions of the pandemic currently are, I guarantee that they will change after reading these stories. In fact, if I were ever given the task of explaining AIDS in Africa I would make this book required reading!

I can’t, of course, make you read this book, but I do strongly suggest that you do. Don’t read it for me, or for the author, or for the publisher, or even for that matter for you, but for the 28 or so million people living with and dying from AIDS. They may seem very far away, but I guarantee they will feel a whole lot closer after you read their stories.

Cassandra is a nursing student who has also studied political science, African studies and French.

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3 Comments on “A book that changed my life: 28 Stories of Aids in Africa”

  1. hi cassandra,

    thanks for writing this and inspiring me to read the book!

  2. Cassandra, how did reading this book change your way of being, or behavior?

    What was in those tales that made you feel something about your own vocation?

    You're a nurse! What is the difference that you experience in the treatment of AIDS between here and there?

  3. This book actually just gave me support for an already existing passion about the pandemic - it gave me a human side to focus on beyond WHO stats and mass media shots of tragedy and destitution. I knew about these people without having read this book, but having someone articulately and passionately write about it, gave me a tool and a resource to bring more people on board ... it moved people, it made them look beyond the horrific numbers of the diseased and dying, it personalized it, it brought it a little closer to home for some, which unfortunately is what people need in order to be moved to take action ... think about how tragic 9/11 & Katrina were for North Americans ... worse happens around the world all the time, but we're removed from it.

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