“Randy Shilts and Laurie Garrett told the story of the HIV/AIDS epidemic through the late 1980s and the early 1990s, respectively. Now journalist-historian-activist Emily Bass tells the story of US engagement in HIV/AIDS control in sub-Saharan Africa. There is far to go on the path, but Bass tells us how far we’ve come.” —Sten H. Vermund, professor and dean, Yale School of Public Health
With his 2003 announcement of a program known as PEPFAR, George W. Bush launched an astonishingly successful American war against a global pandemic. PEPFAR played a key role in slashing HIV cases and AIDS deaths in sub-Saharan Africa, leading to the brink of epidemic control. Resilient in the face of flatlined funding and political headwinds, PEPFAR is America’s singular example of how to fight long-term plague—and win.
To End a Plague is not merely the definitive history of this extraordinary program; it traces the lives of the activists who first impelled President Bush to take action, and later sought to prevent AIDS deaths at the whims of American politics. Moving from raucous street protests to the marbled halls of Washington and the clinics and homes where Ugandan people living with HIV fight to survive, it reveals an America that was once capable of real and meaningful change—and illuminates imperatives for future pandemic wars. Exhaustively researched and vividly written, this is the true story of an American moonshot.