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Media Watch

Denying AIDS
Incredible though it may sound, “AIDS rethinkers really, It’s a slender and punchy book, engagingly written and
truly believe that HIV does not cause AIDS”, explains Seth sharply observed, a fascinating insight into what the
Kalichman in the preface to Denying AIDS. Instead, they author describes as a “wacky and destructive world”. And
argue that “the propagation of the HIV equals AIDS myth is it is certainly destructive: former South African President
the product of a government conspiracy in cahoots with a Thabo Mbeki and his health minister Manto Tshabalala-
multibillion dollar pharmaceutical scam…that antiretroviral Msimang fell under the influence of the denialist
medications are toxic poison”. “In their minds”, the author movement. Mbeki convened a Presidential AIDS Advisory
concludes, “they have not been duped like everyone else… Panel, in which denialists were amply represented.
and one day the AIDS orthodoxy will crumble on its own lies.” Meanwhile, Tshabalala-Msimang stated that “in my heart,
Deny the Holocaust or the September 11 attacks and I believe it is not right to hand [antiretrovirals] out to my
people that do not hiss loopy theories in corners of the people”, she advocated instead beetroot, garlic, lemons,
Denying AIDS: Conspiracy internet look at you like you have a screw loose. A fantasist, and African potatoes.
Theories , Pseudoscience, and they would probably conclude, and one with some rather Kalichman is generous and thoughtful company, he
Human Tragedy shabby prejudices. But AIDS denialism is not always seen as assiduously attends to the denialist creed, thoroughly
By Seth Kalichman. Copernicus
Books, 2009. Pp 205. £13.99.
dishonesty of the same order. The enigmatic figurehead of debunking their theories without bitterness or rage. An
ISBN 978-0-387-79475-4 the denialist movement, Peter Duesberg, even received an epilogue posits that all forms of medical denialism—
award during a whistleblower week in 2008. whether cancer, AIDS, or autism—could be “part of
In Denying AIDS, Seth Kalichman offers “a psychological one movement to promote public mistrust in science
perspective on what is essentially a psychological and and medicine”. “Now that would be something worth
social phenomenon”. “I do not regard myself as an blogging about”, Kalichman writes.
antidenialist waging war on denialism”, he adds, “I am
trying to understand what the denialists are saying and Talha Burki
why anyone would believe them.”

Networked disease: emerging infections in the global city

Written by a score of experts from sociology through medical of stigmatism and health scares pervaded throughout the
humanities to geography, this book discusses how the cities, Chinese expatriates were marginalised in Toronto and
interconnected fluid network formed by the flow of cash, Singapore, and Hong Kong turned into a masked city because
commodities, people, and vectors helps spread infectious “mask-wearing became the quickly improvised, if obligatory,
diseases among cities worldwide, and what the social and social ritual; failing to do one was met with righteous
political reactions are to disease spread. Although the book indignation, a clear sign of ritual violation”.
primarily focuses on the role of this worldwide network on Although the authors have tried to substantiate that SARS
the spread of severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS), spread through a network of culturally and commercially
a few other diseases such as avian influenza, AIDS, and important cities like Hong Kong, Singapore, and Toronto they
tuberculosis are discussed. A meticulous social autopsy was have not explained why more dominant cities worldwide like
done on SARS in the context of the Hong Kong, Singapore, New York, London, Paris, and Tokyo were essentially spared
Networked disease: emerging and Toronto outbreaks to explore the vulnerability of cities despite having similar health risks. We hope the authors will
infections in the global city worldwide, and to examine the effect of the epidemic on the include this discussion in future editions.
Edited by S Harris Ali and
Roger Keil. Wiley-Blackwell,
social and cultural aspects of urban life. The authors, who Overall, this is a unique book that examines emerging
2008. Pp 384. £24·99. were resident in those cities at the time of SARS, have shown infectious diseases through the lens of sociologists and would
ISBN 978-1-4051-6134-3 the vulnerability of the cities due to pre-existing defects in be an interesting reference for public-health practitioners,
health governance and infrastructure. travel-health experts, infectious disease physicians,
The authors have established that the public reaction to the sociologists, and political scientists.
SARS outbreaks in those multicultural conurbations was very
disappointing. Subsequent to the epidemic various social ills Harunor Rashid
followed, for example, medical professionals became victims

600 Vol 9 October 2009