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Bulletin of the World Health Organization

Print version ISSN 0042-9686

Bull World Health Organ vol.83 n.6 Genebra Jun. 2005

http://dx.doi.org/10.1590/S0042-96862005000600017 

BOOKS & ELECTRONIC MEDIA

 

Protecting the future: HIV prevention, care and support among displaced and war-affected populations

 

 

Gael Lescornec

UNAIDS ICT ESA, Idion House,11 Naivasha Road, Sunninghill 2157 Johannesburg, South Africa (email: Lescornecg@unaids.org)

 

 

Author: Wendy Holmes, International Rescue Committee
Publisher: Kumarian Press/International Rescue Committee, Bloomfield, CT, USA; 2003
ISBN: 1-56549-162-9; paperback; 200 pages; price: US$ 29.95

In common with war and other emergencies, the spread and impact of the HIV/AIDS pandemic has the potential to destroy the security fabric of communities, countries and entire regions. For the professionals involved in them, humanitarian interventions offer challenges but also endless opportunities to address this pandemic. In particular, the post-emergency phases of such interventions provide an important transition between humanitarian response and development where HIV/AIDS activities can be integrated into targeted planning and actions.

Protecting the future should be essential reading for all stakeholders in humanitarian interventions since it addresses the dual tragedy of HIV/AIDS and crises in a realistic manner – as well as offering excellent guidance on how to integrate HIV/AIDS activities into programmes. Clear directives are provided for protecting the future of people whose lives have been made vulnerable by war, displacement and the threat of HIV/AIDS. It addresses this vulnerability in detail and provides directives to respond to it that are relevant for anyone directly involved in dealing with this problem at the community level.

Nevertheless, it does omit a few topics whose inclusion would have made it even better; for example, food security and the use of food as a commodity in exchange for sex in situations of humanitarian crisis. Also not covered are the specific food needs of people living with HIV/AIDS as well as the burden placed by HIV/AIDS on the heads of households who are responsible for cultivating food – both of which are exacerbated by war and population displacement as well as by the prevalence of HIV.

These omissions apart, the book provides a range of different options that could be used in a wide range of scenarios. It has been very carefully thought out and put together – providing humanitarian agencies and aid workers with a very useful field tool that is extremely flexible and easily adapted to a variety of different contexts. Both strategically and technically, it is very practical and, given the difficulties of the issues involved, surprisingly user friendly. Complex topics are addressed straightforwardly and concisely, but always in a thorough, rigorous and comprehensive way. The information provided is current and the presentation clear and step-by-step. Useful and practical checklists and annexes are included and the references are up to date. And crucially, it achieves its central objective – to help integration of HIV/AIDS activities into responses to both short- and long-term humanitarian challenges.

Protecting our future is a recommended read. It deserves to be widely distributed so that as many people as possible will benefit from its insights and recommendations. The book will undoubtedly prove to be an extremely useful instrument for anyone dealing with HIV/AIDS among displaced and war-affected populations.