The African AIDS Epidemic
A History

By John Iliffe

A Choice Significant University Press Titles for Undergraduates, 2005–2006 

“Iliffe...has written a splendid social history that is both comprehensive and authoritative; it should be widely read.”

Foreign Affairs

“This book is highly recommended for courses in history, health policy, and public health.”

Journal of the History of Medicine and Allied Sciences

“This is an excellent book and demonstrates the amazing abilities of the author as a historian to incorporate medical, epidemiological, social, and economical information into a ‘holistic’ framework to discuss the evolution and impact of the HIV/AIDS epidemic.”

Canadian Studies in Population

“I hope this book will become a staple in schools of public health, business, and medicine in addition to being read by undergraduates and non-academics. The African AIDS Epidemic: A History is a well-crafted and carefully researched book. It is impressive that more than twenty-five years of AIDS history in Africa has been condensed into 160 extremely readable pages.”

International Journal of African Historical Studies

This history of the African AIDS epidemic is a much-needed, accessibly written historical account of the most serious epidemiological catastrophe of modern times. The African AIDS Epidemic: A History answers President Thabo Mbeki’s provocative question as to why Africa has suffered this terrible epidemic.

While Mbeki attributed the causes to poverty and exploitation, others have looked to distinctive sexual systems practiced in African cultures and communities. John Iliffe stresses historical sequence. He argues that Africa has had the worst epidemic because the disease was established in the general population before anyone knew the disease existed. HIV evolved with extraordinary speed and complexity, and because that evolution took place under the eyes of modern medical research scientists, Iliffe has been able to write a history of the virus itself that is probably unique among accounts of human epidemic diseases. In giving the African experience a historical shape, Iliffe has written one of the most important books of our time.

The African experience of AIDS has taught the world much of what it knows about HIV/AIDS, and this fascinating book brings into focus many aspects of the epidemic in the longer context of massive demographic growth, urbanization, and social change in Africa during the latter half of the twentieth century. The African AIDS Epidemic: A History is a brilliant introduction to the many aspects of the epidemic and the distinctive character of the virus.

John Iliffe is a professor of modern history in the University of Cambridge and a Fellow of St. John’s College. He is the author of Africans: The History of a Continent and The African Poor: A History.

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Related Subjects

African History · HIV-AIDS · Medical Humanities · Public Health · 20th century · African Studies · Africa



Retail price: $29.95, S.
Release date: Feb. 2005
210 pages · 6¼ × 9½ in.
Rights:World (exclusive in Americas, and Philippines) except British Commonwealth, Continental Europe, and United Kingdom




Release date: Feb. 2005
≅ 210 pages ·
Rights: World

Additional Praise for The African AIDS Epidemic

“This book is remarkable for the enormous amount of content squeezed into 160 pages of text and further 60 pages of references and sources...ideally suited to those who want an overview of the AIDS epidemic in Africa or for students who need an introduction to a range of issues.”

Population Studies

“Iliffe masterfully distills medical, social, economic, and geographic studies in an essay that reads like a detective story. This aspect makes the book accessible to a much wider audience than the scholarly academic community alone.”

African Studies Review

“An excellent synthesis of the history of this epidemic on the continent.”

IP-Global Edition

“This is an excellent, well-informed, and readable book.”

The International History Review