With more than one million people currently infected and half a million already dead, the U.S. ranks among the top ten most severe AIDS epidemics in the world. Americans should know more about the current state of the epidemic so they can protect themselves and demand that the government act responsibly to reduce the danger of HIV in this country. Hunter exposes the ways in which the U.S. shamefully resembles a developing country, and the many fronts on which the government has failed to control the spread of the disease. In this startling book, she also shows what we must do to change the future of AIDS.
Hunter writes that more than one million Americans are infected with HIV, and the infection rate surged between 2002 and 2003. A consultant to UNICEF and other health organizations, Hunter makes two main points in this wide-ranging polemic. The first is that AIDS is no longer confined to marginalized populations; the second is that government policies and the influence of the Christian right are helping to ensure its unnecessarily rapid spread. The book centers on Paige Swanberg, a young single mother from Billings, Mont., who was infected after a brief liaison with a newcomer to town. By the time Hunter encounters her, Swanberg is an AIDS counselor and activist who has learned that her paternal grandfather also died of the disease. "AIDS in the United States is a family disease," Hunter writes, and she uses Swanberg's family her mother, biological father, adoptive father and two sisters to illustrate how the rise in the number of single-parent families, the advent of government-sanctioned abstinence-only sex education and the monopolistic policies of American drug companies have combined to create a recipe for a coming public health disaster. Hunter's ability to render such a large body of information coherent is impressive. At times, she undercuts the wealth of information with too much polemic and unsubstantiated and alarmist statements. 16 pages of b&w illus.