AIDS BOOK REVIEW JOURNAL No.44

AIDS BOOK REVIEW JOURNAL

University of Illinois at Chicago

H. Robert Malinowsky

Editor

ISSN 1068-4174

Number 44-April, 1998


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817. Border Health: Challenges for the United States and Mexico, edited by John G. Bruhn, Jeffrey E. Brandon.
818. My Rose: An African American Mother's Story of AIDS, by Geneva E. Bell.
819. Fatal Extraction: The Story Behind the Florida Dentist Accused of Infecting His Patients with HIV and Poisoning Public Health, by Mark Carl Rom.
820. Risky Sex: Gay Men and HIV Prevention, by Dwayne C. Turner.
821. AIDS Memoir: Journal of an HIV-Positive Mother, by Catherine Wyatt-Morley.
822. Commotion in the Blood: Life, Death, and the Immune System, by Stephen S. Hall.
823. Gay Widowers: Life After the Death of a Partner, edited by Michael Shernoff.
824. Live Sex Acts: Women Performing Erotic Labor, by Wendy Chapkis.
825. Latino Gay Men and HIV: Culture, Sexuality, and Risk Behavior, by Rafael M. Diaz.
826. Gay Science: The Ethics of Sexual Orientation Research, by Timothy F. Murphy.
827. North Enough: AIDS and Other Clear-Cuts, by Jan Zita Grover.
828. Unbecoming, by Eric Michaels.
829. AIDS in Africa and the Caribbean, edited by George C. Bond, John Kreniske, Ida Susser, Joan Vincent.
830. Gossip, by Christopher Bram.
831. Sexual Ecology: AIDS and the Destiny of Gay Men, by Gabriel Rotello.

817. Border Health: Challenges for the United States and Mexico, edited by John G. Bruhn, Jeffrey E. Brandon. 1997. Garland Publishing, 717 Fifth Ave., New York, NY 10022. 215p., bibliog., index. (Garland Reference Library of Social Science, v.909). ISBN 0-8153-1386-1. $57.00. (Descriptors: Public Health--Mexican-American Border Region) (Contributors: Fernando M. Trevino, John G. Bruhn, Jeffrey E. Brandon, Frank Crespin, Celinda Levy, Daniel M. Reyna, Jo Fairbanks, Michael D. Barnes, Robert W. Buckingham, Allison M. Wesley, Carleton H. Morrison, Jr., Kitty Richards)

The border between Mexico and the United States is the longest unfortified boundary between two nations, stretching from the Pacific Ocean to the Gulf of Mexico. There are four American and six Mexican states that face each other. "The line is emotional for politicians and artificial for people who live on either side." There were 36,000 people living on this border in 1900 but in 1990 the total population of the ten border states was 65 million. "The border region constitutes a special mosaic of ethnicity, history, language, customs, climates, and landscapes." To some the border is a challenge that needs crossing, to others it is a border that is routinely crossed, and to still others it is a symbol of reality. The problems with living on this border are many and present an ecological conflict with pollution, health, political, economic, and cultural problems.

This interesting book talks about the health problems that are indigent to this area. There is a lack of universal access to good quality health care and preventive health services where 73 percent of the population is Hispanic, health insurance is lacking, and two-thirds of the poor are not eligible for Medicaid. Tuberculosis, hepatitis A, dysentery, upper respiratory infections, cervical cancer, diabetes mellitus, obesity, anemia, gall bladder disease, high blood pressure, teenage pregnancy, HIV, an accidents are common. Tied to these health problems are violence, drug abuse, crime, emotional and physical abuse, homelessness, and unemployment. The health problems are monumental and then need to be addressed sooner than later. "They involve values and beliefs that are markedly different in the two cultures" with prevention being essential.

The eight chapters cover: "Border Culture," "Health: Its Meaning and Expression," "Border Health Issues," "Health Care Access and Utilization on the U.S.-Mexico Border," "Hispanics, HIV, and AIDS along the U.S.-Mexico Border: Distinctive Transmission Trends and Prevention Strategies," "Our Border Environment: Public Health, Practice, and Policy Perspectives," "Health Promotion Efforts Along the U.S.-Mexico Border," and "Border Health Problems: A Systems Approach to Solutions." This is a very good overview of the problems that the U.S. and Mexican governments have to tackle very soon. A recommended book for all academic and health science libraries.

818. My Rose: An African American Mother's Story of AIDS, by Geneva E. Bell. 1997. Pilgrim Press, 700 Prospect Ave. E., Cleveland, OH 44115-1100. 86p. ISBN 0-8298-1160-5. $12.95. (Descriptors: Patients; Biography; Afro-American Gays; Mothers)

This is a moving story about Jeffery Bell, his family, his friends, and his church. Jeff's mother shares all of her experiences as a mother, a Christian, and a deacon in dealing with Jeff who was gay and was HIV positive. Jeff kept to himself that he was gay and HIV positive, but his mother knew and she, also, kept it to herself. The time came, however, when people had to be told and the congregation of the church had to know. This book skillfully tells Jeff's story through his mother. It is an excellent book and one that all African Americans should read. It should be in all church libraries and a highly recommended book for public libraries. It is an outstanding educational tool.

819. Fatal Extraction: The Story Behind the Florida Dentist Accused of Infecting His Patients with HIV and Poisoning Public Health, by Mark Carl Rom. 1997. Jossey-Bass Inc. 350 Sansome St., San Francisco, CA 94104. 226p., bibliog., index. ISBN 0-7879-0991-2. $23.00. (Descriptors: Patients; Dentists; Biography; Malpractice; Dentist and Patient)

This is the story of Kimberly Bergalis who was infected with the HIV virus from the dentist David Acer, in Florida and how the CDC struggled to resolve the conflict. It is a book that is full of ethical judgments that will never be totally satisfied in the minds of everyone. The book looks at the investigation that the CDC conducted in this widely publicized case. The 8 chapters look at what was done: "Controversies: The Florida Dentist Case and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention," "Sex: The Government Investigates the Dentist's Patients," "Science: The Genetic Analysis Links Acer to His Patients," "Mystery: How Did Acer Do It?," "Conflicts: Patients vs. Experts," "Politics: The CDC's Guidelines," "Dilemmas: States, Regulators, and Courts Address the Controversies," and "Resolutions: Closing the Acer Case and Preventing Another One."

Unfortunately, after five years there is still no consensus regarding a policy that applies to health care providers. There have been no other cases such as this one in Florida, but who is to say that there cannot be another one. With new therapies, we are somewhat lax in tackling the problem at this time. "It may be tempting to let this matter rest until another patient contracts HIV from a medical provider. But then it will be too late. We should act now to build consensus on appropriate public health policies, or we may well face another episode of bitterness, fear, and recriminations over a fatal extraction." A recommended book for all libraries.

820. Risky Sex: Gay Men and HIV Prevention, by Dwayne C. Turner. 1997. Columbia University Press, 562 W 113th St., New York, NY 10025. ISBN 0-231-10574-6, 0-231-10575-4pbk. $45.00, $16.50pbk. (Descriptors: Gay Men; Sexual Behavior; Safe Sex in AIDS Prevention)

Using focus groups, interviews, and observations while working with HIV prevention programs, Turner has written an interesting book that tries to identify the thoughts and actions of HIV-negative gay men concerning their sexual activities. His work was done in West Hollywood where the residents appear "to have maintained their sense of humor and ability to laugh at" themselves and others with the threat of becoming HIV-positive every present. He studied HIV-negative gay men, age 30-44 with the thought that these "men in this age group would possess a longer, richer experience living as gay-identified men in the days before and after HIV/AIDS announced its presence."

After an excellent chapter on "History, Risky Sex, and Relapse," there are six chapters that are the stories of six different individuals: "Johnny and Ralph: Commitment and Trust," "Bob: Oral Pleasures," "Phil: Binge and Purge," "Alexander: Knowing Better," "Roger: Curious Sex," and Jerry: Leather Sex." The final two chapters sum up the research: "Theorizing Sexual Pleasure: Fuzzy, Evolutionary, and Cultural" and "Adapting to HIV: Intervention Strategies." The stories of these six individuals show that one can enjoy a wide range of sexual pleasures and still stay HIV-negative. Being promiscuous and having rampant sex that is unsafe is still happening, which means we have to work harder and harder to promote safe sex activities. Turner has provided us with the inner thoughts of six individuals who practice safer sex. This is a highly recommended book for all libraries. We need more books that talk about safer sex as it is practiced in reality and not as it is written in theory.

821. AIDS Memoir: Journal of an HIV-Positive Mother, by Catherine Wyatt-Morely. 1997. Kumarian Press, 14 Oakwood Ave., West Hartford, CT 06119-2127. 194p., bibliog. ISBN 1-56549-067-3. $14.95. (Descriptors: Health; Patients; Biography; Mothers)

Catherine Wyatt-Morely is an African-American women who was infected with the AIDS virus by her husband. She is middle-class and middle-age, the mother of three. Catherine is a dedicated individual who reaches out to many who are in need, especially minority women. She has made a film for women and families facing AIDS. It is a story of a mother's love for her children and how those children did not abandon her in this time of need. "She demonstrates that the care taken in the telling is part of the healing and strengthening of families." She continues to control her life, not letting the virus take over. She has remarkable organizational abilities and draws her "strength from poetry, beauty, friendship, and a sense of divine presence in her life." She tells her story in a diary format beginning with March 28, 1994 and ending with August 23, 1996.

Catherine has tackled the problem of being HIV-positive head on with the over-riding goal that "there is hope and healing." She has written a book that should "help any woman or family facing chronic or catastrophic illness, especially when young children are present." Her words are comforting and full of hope. She never has a sense of defeat and stays involved in this complicated struggle to continually educate everyone about AIDS. A highly recommended book for all libraries.

822. Commotion in the Blood: Life, Death, and the Immune System, by Stephen S. Hall. 1997. Henry Holt, 115 W 18th St., New York, NY 10011. 544p., illus., bibliog., index. (Sloane Technology Series). ISBN 0-8050-3796-9. $30.00. (Descriptors: Immunotherapy; Popular Works; Immune System)

This is a fascinating account of how researchers are using the immune system to develop a wide array of cutting-edge therapies to treat cancer, AIDS, chronic viral diseases, and other ailments. One doctor has stated that these are "commotions" in the immune system. It is an absorbing narrative that takes the reader around the world, touching on the politics of discovery, explanations of the immune system, and other thoughts about new age biology. As one reviewer of the book stated: "A wrenching history of the peril of shopping around in the body's own pharmacy for miracle drugs." Cellular immunology is a complicated subject to write about but Stephen Hall has done an excellent job of providing an historical account of its developments that can be understood by the layperson. He has been able to inform his readers accurately and interestingly, making this a recommended book for all libraries.

823. Gay Widowers: Life After the Death of a Partner, edited by Michael Shernoff. 1997. Harrington Park Press, 10 Alice St., Binghamton, NY 13904-1580. 161p., bibliog., index. (Journal of Gay and Lesbian Social Services, v.7, no.2, 1997). ISBN 0-7890-0355-4, 0-56023-105-Xpbk. $29.95, $14.95. (Descriptors: Gay Men; Widowers; Psychology; Bereavement; Gay Male Couples) (Contributors: Felice Picano, Michael Shernoff, George Seabold, Craig Lucas, Stephen Greco, Winston Wilde, Townsand Price-Spratlen, Ron Najman, Jon L. Clayborne, Eric Guitierrez, John F. Longres, Phill Wilson)

Michael Shernoff lost his partner to AIDS. He found himself drawn to others who were gay widowers, giving comfort to each other. He was astounded that there were no books by or about the process of gay men becoming widowers. Yes, gays do use heterosexual terms to describe their lives and being a widower is something that is ever present in the gay community. There are many memoirs that talk about being a widower, but they do not speak specifically to the grieving partner. As a result, Michael set off to find individuals to write their accounts of being a widower, with the result being this collection of essays. Each essay is different, providing a widely diverse cross section of the gay community. The book is for those whose lover may be dying or who already died. It is a book for those who are not gay, providing an understanding of the universality of the human experience.

One story is about a man who was still in the closet, another about changing roles, and one about Paul Monette's partner who "tells part of his story of recreating himself from Mrs. Paul Monette to Mr. Winston Wilde." These are stories that make you reflect on your own life's journey with your lover. "As the stories in this book demonstrate, survival, experimenting first with a different sense of oneself as a person now alone and then with countless possibilities, new relationships, and innovative directions in life, all have the possibility of creating something fresh and unforeseen that can emerge out of the ashes of the death of a beloved partner." A recommended book for all libraries and especially for the private libraries of gay couples.

824. Live Sex Acts: Women Performing Erotic Labor, Wendy Chapkis. 1997. Routledge, 29 W 35th St., New York, NY 10001. 248p., illus., bibliog., index. ISBN 0-415-91287-3, 0-415-91288-1pbk. $65.00, $16.95. (Descriptors: Prostitution; Prostitutes; Interviews; Feminist Ethics; Sexual Ethics)

Prostitution is as old as civilization. It has been tolerated, judged, fought, outlawed, and studied from many angles. Wendy Chapkis collected her material for this book from 1986 through 1995 in Northern California and the Netherlands. She tried to understand as fully as possible what it meant to be a woman performing erotic acts for money. She taped many interviews and relates those interviews in an interesting book that will probably not appeal to a great number of people. Even though she had a bias as to what she thought about sex for hire, she sought out individuals with perspectives different from her own and to include these rather than edit them out of the book.

In the opening chapter, "The Meaning of Sex," Chapkis tries to define sex in its broadest terms and how it has shaped and unshaped the feminist movement. She raises many questions that will cause readers to squirm and re-examine what their views may be on this topic. Within the interviews one will find revealing tales of what each individual feels about life and in some cases how AIDS is perceived. One person indicated that she was not worried about AIDS because she worked behind closed doors and not on the street. Overall, however, prostitutes are concerned about AIDS and do practice safe sex most of the time. This is an interesting book that will find its place on academic library book shelves.

825. Latino Gay Men and HIV: Culture, Sexuality, and Risk Behavior, by Rafael M. Diaz. 1998. Routledge, 29 W 35th St., New York, NY 10001. 192p., bibliog., index. ISBN 0-415-91388-8. $17.99. (Descriptors: Prevention; Hispanic American Gays)

"With few exceptions, HIV risk-reduction interventions to date have not been successful in significantly decreasing, much less stopping, the spread of HIV among Latino gay men in the U.S. There are no studies that speak to this and there is a great lack of the voices and subjective experiences of Latino gay men. Latinos struggle against church values and strong family values forcing them to stay in the shadows of their world. Much has been written about safe sex education but none of it has really been accepted in the Latino community. Diaz hopes "that this book is not only read, studied, and critically discussed, but also put to good use by all those who work in community-based and government organizations aimed at HIV prevention with Latino gay men." Probably the most important statement from the book that sums up the problem of educating Latino gay men is: "The book's overall hypothesis is that six sociocultural factors in the lives of Latino gay men--machismo, homophobia, family loyalty, sexual silence, poverty, and racism--internalized through socialization experiences, undermine the self-regulation of sexuality and have become important barriers to the practice of safer sex."

The 9 chapters cover: "Findings of Epidemiological Research," "Findings of Behavioral Research," "Cultural Barriers to Behavior Change," "Machismo and Homophobia: The Wounding of Self-Esteem," "Family Loyalty and Sexual Silence: Splitting Off Sexuality," "Poverty and Racism: The Fueling of Fatalism," "Acculturation Groups," "A Psycho-Cultural Model of Sexual Self-Regulation," and "Hermanos de Luna y Sol: A Model for HIV Prevention with Latino Gay Men." This is a powerful book that reveals much about the Latinos. There will be those in the Latino communities that will dispute all that is in this book. Unfortunately, all that is written here provides a better understanding for the researcher who is faced with creating strategies that can help to educate the Latino men about AIDS. A highly recommended book for all libraries, especially where there are many Latino readers.

826. Gay Science: The Ethics of Sexual Orientation Research, by Timothy F. Murphy. 1997. Columbia University Press, 562 W 113th St., New York, NY 10025. 268p., bibliog., index. ISBN 0-231-10848-6. $29.95. (Descriptors: Research; Homosexuality; Moral and Ethical Aspects; Social Aspects; Sexual Orientation; Social Aspects)

This book is included here as a resource for those who are doing any research that involves gay men and women. There has been some very good research over the years but there has been some frighteningly disturbing research that involves the ethics of sexual orientation. Murphy "examines the social and historical conditions, from the 1880s to the present, that spawned this research and reviews the findings that have often perpetuated confusion about homosexuality." In 7 detailed and well-documented chapters Murphy provides an insight into gay science: "Scientific Accounts of Sexual Orientation," "The Value of Sexual Orientation Research," "The Practice of Sexual Orientation Therapy," "Controlling the Sexual Orientation of Children," "The Use of Sexual Orientation Tests," "Sexual Orientation Research, Nature, and the Law," and "Science and the Future."

Murphy argues "that the way to ensure the future of gay people is not through censoring sexual orientation research but through working toward a society that uses research as a way of distinguishing myth from fact and not as an instrument of discrimination." This is a book that needs much time to read, not one that you pick up and read over night. It provides a wealth of information that will generate an equal amount of criticism and debate. Nevertheless, it is an excellent book that should be in all academic libraries.

827. North Enough: AIDS and Other Clear-Cuts, by Jan Zita Grover. 1997. Graywolf Press, 2402 University Ave., Ste 203, Saint Paul, MN 55114. 166p. ISBN 1-55597-235-7. $12.95. (Descriptors: Novel)

Grover worked for many years as an AIDS volunteer in San Francisco where the devastation of AIDS took its toll on her day to day life. She moved to Minnesota to escape all of the death, sorrow, and ugliness of AIDS but soon discovered that man had devastated the landscape and it, too, was ugly. She saw the similarity between the ugliness of AIDS in San Francisco and the ugliness of man's ravishing of the country in Minnesota. In looking at these similarities she recognizes something that she articulated in San Francisco: "the difficult beauties of deformity." To this end she finds consolation and that is what she writes about in this interesting book. This is a book that has to be read before one understands what Grover is talking about. It will make you look at your surroundings in a much different way. A recommended book for all libraries.

828. Unbecoming, by Eric Michaels, edited by Paul Foss. 1997. Duke University Press, PO Box 90660, Durham, NC 27708-0660. 129p., bibliog. (Series Q). ISBN 0-8223-2005-3, 0-8223-2014-2pbk. $39.95, $13.95. (Descriptors: Patients; Australia; Biography)

This is an AIDS diary kept by Eric Michaels from September 9, 1987 to August 10, 1988. He died of AIDS on August 24, 1988. Eric was a U.S. citizen and an authority of the aboriginals, going to Australia to research the impact of television on remote aboriginal communities. His diary tells how AIDS "relates to his concerns as both an anthropologist and a gay man and the failure of medical and governmental institutions to come to terms with the disease." This is a forceful book that lays bare the rage and frustration of a learned individual who fought to the end, believing in life in spite of his terminal illness. A recommended book for all libraries.

829. AIDS in Africa and the Caribbean, edited by George C. Bond, John Kreniske, Ida Susser, Joan Vincent. 1997. Westview Press, 5500 Central Ave., Boulder, CO 80301-2877. 234p., bibliog., index. ISBN 0-8133-2879-9. $23.00. (Descriptors: Africa; Caribbean; Social Aspects) (Contributors: Anne V. Akeroyd, George C. Bond, Richard C. Chirimuuta, Rosalind J. Harrison-Chirimuuta, John Kreniske, Shirley Lindenbaum, Maryinez Lyons, Regina McNamara, Elizabeth Reid, Zena Stein, Ida Susser, Meredeth Turshen, Joan Vincent)

Most of the essays in this book were presented in New York in November, 1991, "at an international conference on Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome (AIDS) in Africa and the Caribbean, co-sponsored by the Institute of African Studies and the HIV Center for Clinical and Behavioral Studies at Columbia University." These essays provide a different perspective in researching AIDS, namely "the conditions of the living and their futures." The fact that the researchers chose Africa and the Caribbean for their study should not be taken wrongly. It should be understood that "AIDS must be studied as a global phenomenon" that has connections everywhere. Some of the essays attest to the significance of travel, tourism, and migration as ways of transmitting the virus.

The 14 chapters cover: "The Anthropology of AIDS in Africa and the Caribbean," "Sociocultural Aspects of AIDS in Africa," "AIDS in the Dominican Republic," "Community Organizing Around HIV Prevention in Rural Puerto Rico," "AIDS Prevention, Treatment, and Care in Cuba," "AIDS in Uganda," "Community Based Organizations in Uganda," "Female Genital Health and the Risk of HIV Transmission," "The Point of View: Perspectives on AIDS in Uganda," "The HIV Epidemic as a Development Issue," "Placing Women at the Center of Analysis," "AIDS from Africa: A Case of Racism vs. Science?," "U.S. Aid to AIDS in Africa," and "AIDS: Body, Mind, and History."

Although somewhat dated, these essays still offer a great amount to think about and are the focal point for more research. The world has got to recognize that AIDS research is at a critical point and that any effort to try to understand how it started, how it is spread, and how it can be contained in the underdeveloped parts of the world is of utmost importance. This is a recommended book for all academic and medical libraries.

830. Gossip, by Christopher Bram. 1997. Penguin Books, 375 Hudson St., New York, NY 10014. 337p. ISBN 0-525-93914-8. $23.95. (Descriptors: Fiction)

Gossip is included here only as a fictional account of life in the gay community. Life that can be ugly, funny, charming, loving, and wicked. It is about gay and straight politics, sex and murder, and a host of other things will entertain you from cover to cover. "Gossip" is Bram's own 'tell-all' book, showing how power corrupts both left and right, and how homophobia still hurts." This is a must read for all gays and lesbians and a recommended book for public and academic libraries.

831. Sexual Ecology: AIDS and the Destiny of Gay Men, by Gabriel Rotello. 1997. Penguin Books, 375 Hudson St., New York, NY 10014. 320p., bibliog., index. ISBN 0-525-94164-9. $24.95. (Descriptors: Gay Men; Health and Hygiene)

AIDS and gay men seem to go hand in hand, at least to a large proportion of the population in the developed world. In the underdeveloped parts of the world AIDS and poverty seem to go hand in hand. Much has been written in the newspapers, magazine, journals, and books that say "the gay AIDS epidemic is often considered a result of social and governmental homophobia and neglect, even an act of genocide." The conservatives point the finger at the gays because of their promiscuity. To the more compassionate public health workers "AIDS was simply an accident that just happened to sideswipe gay men first on its way to careening through the entire population." Rotello makes some gays angry when he points the finger at how AIDS is spread and how the gay culture has inadvertently contributed to that spread. He has done a great deal of research for this book and has woven "together the strands of ecology theory, epidemiology, and sexual politics" in order to show why AIDS hit the gay community so hard.

After an introduction that sets the stage for "AIDS and the Destiny of Gay Men" Rotello spells out his theories and thoughts in 11 well-written chapters: "The Birth of AIDS," "Gay Sexual Ecology," "The Synergy of Plagues," "The Birth of the Condom Code," "The Second Wave," "Surfing the Second Wave," "The Ecology of Heterosexual AIDS," "Holistic Prevention," "Imagining a Sustainable Culture," "Building Incentives into Gay Culture," and "The Stakes." He believes that AIDS can be contained and that the future of gays is brighter than it has ever been. However, for this to happen gay men have to accept the fact that unlimited, unsafe sexual freedom will be disastrous. The use of condoms and newer and better medical treatments can work only if there are behavioral changes based in ecological self-knowledge. Education is the key "but can only come about when we construct a new gay social order that explicitly encourages these changes in the individual lives of gay men."

This is a provocative book that will spark debates in all corners of the gay community. It is shock treatment for those who keep slipping back into the pre-AIDS life style. AIDS maybe cannot be cured but it appears that it can be contained if we all work together through change. A highly recommended book for all libraries.


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