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New Vision serialises book about Uganda’s HIV fight with ARVs

by Editorial Team
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By Hilary Bainemigisha

Tomorrow, December 8, 2022, New Vision will serialise To End a Plague: America’s fight to defeat AIDS in Africa by Emily Bass. 

The book, which was launched in Kampala on September 6, 2022, details Africa’s success in containing AIDS, which is described as America’s unlikeliest, least-known, yet greatest achievement this millennium.  

HIV incidence is lowering in all African countries where the US President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) is supporting the fight. In Africa, PEPFAR is in 21 countries of Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania, Rwanda, Burundi, DR Congo and South Sudan. Others are Angola, Botswana, Cameroon, Côte d’Ivoire, Eswatini, Ethiopia and Lesotho. There are also Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, Nigeria, South Africa, Zambia and Zimbabwe. 

The book traces the PEPFAR intervention down to the 2003 announcement by President George W. Bush of an impactful project which has become an astonishingly successful American war against a global epidemic. 

The book intro sums it up: “PEPFAR played a key role in slashing HIV cases and AIDS deaths in sub-Saharan Africa, leading to the brink of epidemic control. Resilient in the face of flat-lined funding and political headwinds, PEPFAR is America’s singular example of how to fight long-term plague — and win,” it reads. 

To End a Plague is a very descriptive, historical and open-all-corners narrative of the way ARVs turned the tide of war in the AIDS epidemic.

It takes the reader along the experiences of Bass as she traversed Uganda and other countries noting the HIV history we would have lost had she not permanently archived it in her book.

Yet the book is not merely the definitive history of PEPFAR; it traces the lives of the activists who first impelled President Bush to take action and later sought to prevent AIDS deaths at the whims of American politics.  

Moving from raucous street protests, to the marbled halls of Washington and the clinics and homes where Ugandan people living with HIV fight to survive, the book reveals an America that was once capable of real and meaningful change — and illuminates imperatives for future pandemic wars. Exhaustively researched and vividly written, this is the true story of America’s last moonshot. 

Emily has spent 20 years as a journalist and activist focused on AIDS in Africa and American foreign aid.

Her most active times have been in Uganda, for which she dedicates considerable space to highlight the laudable HIV fight activities, heroes, projects and impact, from the top up to down the grassroots.

Her articles and essays have appeared in numerous books and publications including The Lancet, Esquire and n+1, and received notable mention in Best American Essays.

She is the recipient of a Fulbright Journalism Fellowship and is the 2018-2019 Martin Duberman Visiting Research Scholar at the New York Public Library. 
The book is a 2022 Finalist for the Lionel Gelber Prize for best English language book on foreign affairs.  

Bass lives in Brooklyn and was recently in Uganda to launch the book at Fairway Hotel in September. The serialisation of the book, which starts tomorrow, includes excerpts that have been lightly edited and condensed from the original to what can fit and flow.

Otherwise, the book is available and easily downloadable, in text and audio, from e-book. You can also place an order through Johanna Dickson at

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