The author writes from two decades' experience responding to the AIDS crisis in his native Zambia, in Botswana, and most recently in the UK. During that time, as well as caring for and treating affected individuals and families, he has also been actively developing a strategy for educating whole communities to respond to HIV using a mixture of images (mostly culled from TALC's educational slides library), stories, and African proverbs.
The aims of the strategy are to equip communities to protect themselves against HIV, to tackle stigma, and to care effectively and compassionately for those affected. Tackling prejudice, denial, ignorance and stigma head on, this approach has inevitably brought him into conflict with community leaders and others. Yet in the long run, the impact has been positive, with evidence of increased health-seeking behaviour, including access to voluntary testing and counselling services, by members of local communities who have been involved with this educational approach.
The book is part history of the response to HIV in Zambia and Botswana, part autobiography, part a manual for the AIDUcation approach, and part an overview of the AIDS pandemic in southern Africa today. It makes interesting reading, although is hampered without the pictures Dr Mpara uses in his AIDUcation programmes. Nevertheless, for those seeking an effective educational strategy for HIV prevention, this book is a useful addition to the growing literature.