Wealhtheow's Reviews > The Wisdom of Whores: Bureaucrats, Brothels, and the Business of AIDS

The Wisdom of Whores by Elizabeth Pisani
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's review
Jan 20, 2010

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bookshelves: non-fiction, health
Recommended to Wealhtheow by: Shinynickel

Pisani has been working in AIDS research pretty much since its inception, at all the big organizations: UNAIDS, WHO, CDC, World Bank, Ministries of Health in China, Indonesia, East Timor, and the Philippines. She tells the story of the evolution of AIDS programs, which started out as shamefully poorly funded and are now overwhelmed with badly managed donor money. Personal and political ideologies have blocked the most effective programs, channeled money toward populations that don't need it, used resources in the most inefficient ways possible (for example, when she wrote this book most US aid was tied up so that a program in Asia would have to buy condoms made in the US and ship them across the world, as opposed to just buying the much cheaper condoms made locally. Same problem but on a grander scale with drugs, which pharma companies made a mint off of, even after Brazil and India rebelled against their patents and started making their own generics)...Pisani has a light, cheeky tone for most of this book, but hints of righteous anger filter through, mostly in the form of bitingly sarcastic footnotes. God, I love sarcastic footnotes.

Definitely worth a read if one is interested in donor aid, AIDS, or the research of infectious diseases.
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Reading Progress

January 20, 2010 – Shelved
January 20, 2010 – Shelved as: non-fiction
November 8, 2011 – Started Reading
November 10, 2011 –
page 244
61.0% "so much heroin in Jakarta, Indonesia's jails that this one women actually started smuggling heroin from INSIDE the jail to sell to users outside."
November 10, 2011 –
page 248
62.0% "1/5 prisoners in Indonesia have HIV. $8million a year in international aid for Indonesian HIV programs. Yet the health budget of Indonesian prisons in 2002: 7 cents per person per year. Clearly the money is going where it's most needed!"
November 10, 2011 –
page 255
63.75% "Under BushII, US got the UNODC to drop needle exchange programs, almost managed to get UNAIDS to do so too. US govt told WHO that scientists working at CDC, NIH, NAS aren't allowed to provide expert advice to international orgs unless the advice coincided with administration's position. Researchers getting NIH funding were mysteriously required to retroactively justify their studies based on concerns raised by"
November 10, 2011 – Finished Reading
December 31, 2011 – Shelved as: health

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