The Moral Economy of AIDS in South Africa

In This Review

The Moral Economy of AIDS in South Africa

By Nicoli Nattrass
Cambridge University Press, 2004
224 pp. $29.95
Purchase

With a fifth of its adult population HIV positive, South Africa arguably suffers from the world's most intractable AIDS crisis. Compared to other afflicted African countries, it benefits from above-average financial resources and health infrastructure. Yet progress has been slower there than in countries such as Botswana and Uganda. Nattrass, an economist at the University of Cape Town, offers an excellent introduction to South Africa's AIDS crisis as well as a carefully argued brief for a much more aggressive public policy to address it: universal access to antiretroviral drug treatment for HIV positive patients. For Nattrass, overcoming the AIDS crisis will require much more than merely changes in health policy; not everyone will agree with her linkage of AIDS policy to a massive anti-poverty program that would require an increase in taxation equivalent to as much as a quarter of South Africa's GDP. On the other hand, few will walk away from this book without the conviction that South Africans need a more ambitious approach to fighting the disease.