28: Stories of AIDS in Africa

Stephanie Nolen's book is a collection of 28 stories — one for every million people living with HIV-AIDS in Africa.

Stephanie Nolen

In 28, Stephanie Nolen, the Globe and Mail's Africa bureau chief, puts a human face to the crisis created by HIV-AIDS in Africa. She writes with a power, understanding and simplicity that makes us listen, makes us understand and care. Through riveting anecdotal stories — one for each of the million people living with HIV-AIDS in Africa — Nolen explores the effects of an epidemic that well exceeds the Black Plague in magnitude. It is a calamity that is unfolding just a 747-flight away, and one that will take the lives of these 28 million without the help of massive, immediate intervention on an unprecedented scale. 28 is a timely, transformative, thoroughly accessible book that shows us definitively why we continue to ignore the growth of HIV-AIDS in Africa only at our peril and at an intolerable moral cost. (From Knopf Canada)

From the book

Few people outside Africa seem to understand the scale or the epic gravity of what is happening there. When I talk to people at home about the pandemic, I get the sense that they feel a dying African is somehow different from a dying Canadian, American or German - that Africans have lower expectations or place less value on their lives.

That to be an orphaned fifteen-year-old thrust into caring for four bewildered siblings, or a teacher thrown out of her house after she tells her husband she is infected - that somehow this would be less terrifying or strange for a person in Zambia or Mozambique than it would be for someone in the United States or Britain.

And so I wanted to tell their stories - to tell how they want to go to high school, or build up a small taxi business, or meet their grandchildren. When people in Tanzania or Botswana find themselves fighting governments - their own and in the West - and multinational pharmaceutical companies and their own families and the neighbors who isolate and fear them, that is every bit as bizarre and daunting for them as it would be for you and me. I have met the beauty queens and the soldiers and the young lovers and the scientists who live with AIDS in Africa, and I know that the only way that they are different from me is that they have the misfortune to live in countries that are economically and politically marginal - that they are black and they are, quite often, poor, and so their lives can slip away unremarked.

From 28: Stories of AIDS in Africa by Stephanie Nolen ©2007. Published by Knopf Canada.