The view from the bottom of the bottom

The way they used to pack slaves in the ship, that is how we sleep. – Kenneth, 37, Mukobeko Maximum Security Prison, September 30, 2009 This week I have been trying to digest a remarkable report from Human Rights Watch on the state of Zambia’s prisons. During the last 18 months they managed to  interview … Continue reading

HIV: Looking in the Ugly Mirror

HIV: If there is a more grimly fascinating epidemic, I would like to read about it. Close as I am to finishing my year living amongst this dark plague, I must admit that I still find more to puzzle over than to understand and more questions to ask than I can claim to have answers … Continue reading

Shining a Light on the Darkest Force

Sex and death are two of the most fundamental elements of the human condition. They are intensely powerful yet private topics that remain taboo in most cultures of the world. Add in a layer or two of moral or religious righteousness and some pretty strong cultural mores and you have a recipe for a staggeringly … Continue reading

Back to the Front Line

Tuesday was World AIDS Day and instead of joining what I am sad to report has become a rather tired and tokenistic march to the city centre to hear politicians utter promises that no amount of freely distributed t-shirts will make them keep, I decided to return to one of the first community groups I … Continue reading

The Prevention Convention

This week will go down as one of the highlights of my time in Zambia, in fact it will probably remain a highlight of my entire professional career. For the last 4 months I have been part of a small team working day and night to deliver a large scale conference on HIV prevention – … Continue reading

Reading this blog will make you healthier

It may surprise you to know that I have a tax disc holder which urges me to have only one sexual partner. I am currently drinking water from a bottle that is apparently united against malaria and I regularly drive past a rather disturbing billboard of a small cowering child who tells me that ‘Sleeping … Continue reading

If only it were just the drugs…

Modern HIV medications are a testament to pharmaceutical ingenuity. In the space of 15 years we have progressed from having one weakly effective and highly toxic therapy to a whole medicine cabinet of  anti-retrovirals (ARVs), targeting the virus in different ways and in combination providing highly effective and tolerable ways of keeping it at bay. … Continue reading

Eric’s Story

In a field littered with three and more letter acronyms, PLwHIV (People Living with HIV) is my least favourite. It is a cold, cumbersome and clinical way to describe the body and soul of the epidemic. It is their pain and suffering that should command our greatest attention and their strength and determination our greatest … Continue reading

Southern Africa’s Little Gem

This week I was fortunate enough to spend my time in Gaborone, Botswana scouting out potential non-profit partners for next year’s PEPAL programme. A great friend from my time in Chicago hails from here so it is not my first visit to the city, but coming directly from its neighbour to the north allowed me … Continue reading

The Ties That Bind…

A colleague of mine arrived at the office with a shocking tale this week. Whilst bringing his young daughter to school he witnessed a crowd of men single out a lone female making her way to work. She happened to be dressed in a skirt and tights, a sight that would barely merit a second … Continue reading