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Saturday Is for Funerals: AIDS in Botswana

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Date and time
Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Unity Dow, human rights activist and judge, and Max Essex, Harvard University's Lasker Professor of Health Sciences, discuss the AIDS crisis in Botswana and their new book, *Saturday Is for Funerals*. In the year 2000, the World Health Organization estimated that 85 percent of the 15-year-olds in Botswana would eventually die of AIDS. In *Saturday Is for Funerals* we learn why that won't happen. Unity Dow and Max Essex tell the true story of lives ravaged by AIDS--of orphans, bereaved parents, and widows; of families who devote most Saturdays to the burial of relatives and friends. We witness the actions of community leaders, medical professionals, research scientists, and the educators of all types to see how an unprecedented epidemic of death and destruction is being stopped in its tracks. This book describes how a country responded in a time of crisis. In the true-life stories of loss and quiet heroism, activism and scientific initiatives, we learn of new techniques that dramatically reduce rates of transmission from the mother to child, new therapies that can save lives of many infected with AIDS, and intricate knowledge about the spread of HIV, as well as issues of confidentiality, distributive justice, and human rights. The experiences of Botswana offer practical lessons along with the critical element of hope.

Unity Dow is a judge, human rights activist, and writer from Botswana. She has written four novels, focusing on the tension between Western and traditional African values, gender issues, and issues of global poverty. She was the first woman to serve on Botswana’s High Court, and in 2010 she was sworn in as justice of the Interim Constitutional Court of Kenya.
Max Essex is Lasker Professor of Health Sciences at Harvard University, Chair of the Harvard School of Public Health AIDS Initiative (HAI), and Chair of the Botswana-Harvard AIDS Institute in Gabarone, Botswana. He has been involved in AIDS research from the earliest days of the U.S. epidemic in 1982.