New Internationalist

Body Count

Issue 391

Peter Gill is a campaigning journalist who has worked in India on AIDS-awareness and leprosy projects and whose recent work has focused on the global disaster that is AIDS. In the last quarter of a century, 25 million people have died of AIDS-related infections and over 40 million have become HIV-positive. In Body Count, Gill argues persuasively that many of these lives could have been saved and infections averted. His book is a polemic against those in positions of authority who have done nothing or actively hindered the fight to curb the spread of AIDS.

The guilty parties will come as no surprise to regular NI readers. The Bush Administration, hand-in-hand with the US Christian Right, has denied funding to agencies providing condoms and clean needles. Their alternative has been a simplistic campaign preaching abstinence and fidelity and the ‘billions’ promised by Bush to fight AIDS have largely been poured into this futile attempt to impose extreme Christian morality. They have been joined in this crusade by the Catholic Church in its unremitting and anti-scientific campaign against condom use.

Gill also points the finger at African leaders, most notably Thabo Mbeki who has publicly questioned the very basis of AIDS research. Of course, the pharmaceutical industry also is indicted and Western nations too often fail to match fine words with actions where it matters. Body Count is a passionate and readable account of the worldwide abdication of the responsibility to tackle AIDS, a 20th-century catastrophe rolling on into the 21st, leaving untold preventable suffering and death in its wake.

Peter Whittaker

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