Reviews Book

Disease and Democracy: The Industrialised World Faces AIDS

BMJ 2005; 331 doi: (Published 20 October 2005) Cite this as: BMJ 2005;331:970
  1. Jennifer Prah Ruger, assistant professor (
  1. Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven, Connecticut, USA

    Historians are calling Hurricane Katrina—which hit the US Gulf coast and the Louisiana city of New Orleans at the end of August—one of the most devastating natural disasters in American history. In its immediate aftermath, the mayor of New Orleans, fearful that prolonged flooding and contaminated water would lead to dehydration, food poisoning, and the spread of hepatitis A, cholera, and typhoid fever, issued a mandatory evacuation order. Those who failed to leave the city voluntarily might be forced to leave. Local, state, and national authorities have since been blamed for failures to respond effectively.

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    Peter Baldwin

    University of California Press, £29.95/$44.95, pp 478 ISBN 0 520 24350 1


    In Katrina's wake, Peter Baldwin's Disease and Democracy strikes a resonant chord. Baldwin analyses differing approaches to the AIDS epidemic among industrialised countries. He argues that the divergence in AIDS strategies in the US, Britain, Sweden, Germany, and France is path dependent—predetermined by earlier 19th century efforts against other epidemic diseases, such as cholera and syphilis. He argues that “traditional …

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