A new book – Pandemic: Facing AIDS – presents the images of some of the more than 40-million people living with HIV/AIDS. The book features the work of over 100 award-winning international photographers and artists – and essays by prominent figures, including UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan.
Umbrage Editions and Moxie Firecracker Films, publishers of the coffee table style book, say, “It puts a human face on the disease of a severity not seen since the Bubonic Plague in the 14th Century.”
In the book, Mr. Annan writes, “Every age and every generation faces its great challenge. The fight against AIDS may be ours. Only if we meet this challenge can we succeed in our other efforts to build a humane, healthy and equitable world.” He says, “Behind each and every case of AIDS there lies a story – a story of a family shattered, of an individual having to face down stigma, of mothers preparing their children for a life as orphans, of a struggle to maintain the dignity of everyday life. These stories should fill us with indignation.”
South African author Nadine Gordimer also contributes to Pandemic: Facing AIDS. “AIDS is not a regional problem, but a 21st Century world pestilence, and no country, no community anywhere should take comfort from the latest figures that show it is less infected, affected, than those where one individual in ten, one individual in four, is a sufferer or potential sufferer, babies are born doomed, or the governance of a country is threatened by the decimation of AIDS among the qualified, economically active population. We are all partners under threat. We have to remind every country and community in the world: Never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee,” she writes.
Jeffrey Sachs, Director of Columbia University’s Earth Institute, uses his essay to call for greater contributions from rich nations. Dr. Sachs writes, “The rich world is running out of excuses. Every misconception we’ve heard about treating AIDS patients – that the drugs don’t work in Africa; that patients won’t adhere to ‘complex’ regimens; that the doctors aren’t qualified or can’t be trained – has been matched by a similarly lazy misconception about foreign assistance. We’ve been told that any aid would be wasted, that debt relief would be squandered by corruption. We’ve been told that it’s not ‘cost effective’ to spend a tiny fraction of our own income to save millions each year, as if it’s cost effective to let a generation die, to allow the collapse of Africa’s tottering health care system, and to stand by as tens of millions of children are orphaned.”
The words accompany powerful pictures of over 100 photographers from more than 55 nations. More information about the book and the companion HBO television special can be found at www.pandemicfacingaids.org.
One of the pictures is companioned with the words of Archbishop Desmond Tutu. “We are not talking just statistics when we say millions are dying…We’re talking about people of flesh and blood. We’re talking about someone who is somebody’s son, somebody’s father, somebody’s brother. It is people who can laugh, who can cry. It is people who can be cured, who can have their life extended. We defeated Nazism. We defeated communism, and we recently defeated apartheid. We can certainly defeat TB and AIDS.”