I finished this book with tears streaming down my face. The author, Stephanie Nolan tells us about 28 people all across Sub Saharan Africa. Her rationale behind that – one story for each million people affected with HIV/AIDS. The people highlighted in the book share their stories with courage, vulnerability, resilience, and bravery. I am deeply changed.
Although the book was published in 2008, it is still relevant today. In Swaziland the population is roughly 1.2 million people of that 120,000 are infected with HIV (with women ages 15-29 having the highest prevalence).
The amount of depth and research Nolan included in the book is groundbreaking.
She talks about factors that contribute to the spread of HIV:
Shame and denial
Myths (ex: having sex with a virgin will cure someone of AIDS)
Money (can’t pay for condoms, can’t pay for fees to go to school to get educated to learn how to protect one self)
Religious organizations forbidding the use of condoms
Unsafe blood supplies
People communicating the message about HIV wrong.
Men’s ownership of women’s sexuality
She also talks about how the pandemic is reshaping demographics – young couples dying and grandparents filling the void or leaving children orphaned.
To be frank, reading this book was quite painful. I read story after story about people fighting to stay alive. It’s so devastating to hear that this disease has taken millions of people’s lives when it could have been prevented (I just mean in terms of people in power intervening and offering help and support a lot quicker).
I can truly talk about this book forever. But I rather not. I rather the book speak for itself. I recommend this book to every human – whether you believe this affects you or not. Your life will be changed forever!