London’s Guardian Profiles HIV/AIDS Advocate, Author Pisani
London's Guardian on Tuesday profiled HIV/AIDS advocate and author Elizabeth Pisani. Pisani, an epidemiologist and medical demographer, spent 10 years working on HIV/AIDS issues for UNAIDS and a nongovernmental organization in Indonesia before leaving the field to write her new book, called "The Wisdom of Whores."
According to Pisani, there are two separate HIV/AIDS epidemics -- one in Africa, and one in the rest of the world -- the Guardian reports. In Africa, HIV is primarily spread by heterosexual, noncommercial sex. In other parts of the world, data show that injection drug users, sex workers and men who have sex with men are the most at risk of the virus, Pisani said.
In her book, Pisani says that current HIV/AIDS efforts have become more centered on poverty, gender, development, vulnerability and leadership issues -- or what she calls "sacred cows." According to Pisani, condom use and needle-exchange programs would be more effective at curbing the spread of the virus outside of Africa. "We have to stop this nonsense now," she said, adding, "Talking about 'vulnerability' will not stop people" from contracting HIV/AIDS.
"We could knock this epidemic in the rest of the world on the head -- just like we've knocked so many things on the head in the rest of the world -- but we're not doing it, largely because of the paradigm that we're developing in Africa," Pisani said, adding, "The AIDS industry has become an island unto itself, in a sea of common sense. That's the tragedy of it. It's unsayable" (Aitkenhead, Guardian, 5/13).