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Book and Media Reviews
July 21, 2010

Changing the Course of AIDS: Peer Education in South Africa and Its Lessons for the Global Crisis

JAMA. 2010;304(3):352-353. doi:10.1001/jama.2010.997

In Changing the Course of AIDS, David Dickinson sets out to describe the results of 6 years of research into the practice of peer education and its contribution to the struggle with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)/AIDS through behavioral change in the context of South African industry. Dickinson argues that this new approach offers lessons that can be applied to the HIV pandemic elsewhere in the world. As many caregivers involved with HIV and sexually transmitted diseases are aware, he notes that choices in sexual activity, one of the least manageable of human behaviors, exist in a web of workplace, social, family, and community relationships. He faults the medical establishment as being rooted in a biomedical technical paradigm of vaccines, circumcision, or condoms and ignoring the human processes of responding to HIV. He notes greater effectiveness in changing sexual behavior reported with horizontal communication in contrast to vertical communication and focuses on workplace peer education, primarily as it occurs in 5 South African corporations.

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