THE INVISIBLE EPIDEMIC: The Story of Women and AIDS by Gena Corea


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Factual research and personal stories add up to a powerful report on the AIDS crisis and its effect on women, by an author who's taken on the medical establishment before (The Mother Machine, 1985, etc.). Narrative passages about HIV/AIDS sufferers (ranging from paralegals to prisoners) and about professional experts and concerned parties (physicians, relatives, AIDS activists) are interwoven here with alarming statistics and disclosures, including: HIV/AIDS studies that are based on no gynaecologic examinations for women, if women are represented at all; the rejection of papers about women and AIDS by important medical periodicals (NEJM, JAMA) and at major scientific meetings; and Centers for Disease Control definitions of AIDS that exclude the symptoms of women, thus making them ineligible for disability benefits. Corea also highlights the significant number of monogamous women infected with the virus by their husbands; professional ignorance of the connection between sexual abuse and AIDS; the lack of response to women's concerns on the part of the NIH (National Institutes of Health or, according to AIDS activists, ""Nothing is Happening""); and the general perception of AIDS-stricken women as ""vesseis of infection [for men] and vectors of perinatal transmission [to fetuses]""--i.e., targets for blame, not help. Cores provides resource listings including hot lines, clearinghouses, volunteer groups, and educational organizations. Surprisingly, she makes no mention of Kimberly Bergalis, and she fails to speculate about how the outcome of the 1992 presidential election might affect the war against AIDS. Such topics, as well as more data on women with AIDS outside the US, could have been included if the author's sometimes loosely woven prose bad been tightened. A long-overdue exposÉ of the errors of commission and omission that have marked the diagnosis and treatment of HIV/AIDS in women, and a heartfelt call to action to combat this devastating disease.

Pub Date: Nov. 4th, 1992
Page count: 368pp
Publisher: HarperCollins