Letting Them Die

Letting Them Die

Why HIV/AIDS Prevention Programmes Fail
Catherine Campbell
Distribution: Global
Publication date: 09/01/2003
Format: Paperback
ISBN: 978-0-253-21635-9
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In the old South Africa we killed people. Now we’re just letting them die." —Pieter Dirk Uys, South African satirist

Today in South Africa, HIV/AIDS kills about 5 in 10 young people. Many of the victims are miners and commercial sex workers who ply their trade in mining communities. In this critique of government-sponsored and privately funded HIV/AIDS prevention programs in South Africa, Catherine Campbell exposes why it has been so difficult to stop the HIV/AIDS epidemic. Campbell’s research focuses on local vectors of the disease such as what people believe about the spread and prevention of AIDS, what measures they take to prevent disease, and whether they are likely to seek treatment at local AIDS clinics. "Letting Them Die" is not just an investigation into sexuality, social relations, health, and medicine; it is also a sharp review of the kinds of programs that are becoming the standard method of HIV/AIDS intervention throughout Africa.

Author Bio

Catherine Campbell is a Reader at the London School of Economics and an External Professor at the University of Natal.


“A compelling demonstration of the value and power of qualitative research and process evaluation . . . intriguing and important . . . provides an inspiring intervention paradigm.”
 — Journal of Community and Applied Social Psychology

“Brave, frank, perceptive . . . a uniquely detailed description and interpretation.”
 — Population and Development Review

“An important and compelling contribution to the field of public health education . . . recommended to all those interested in finding ways of addressing the basic issues of health care inequality and social injustice through community education and organisation”
 — Health Education and Behavior

“Arguably the most important practitioner critique to have appeared in recent years . . . a landmark book. . . . I salute the author’s intellectual honesty.”
 — Anthropology in Action

“A superb analysis of community development initiatives . . . well researched, intelligently summarised, and riveting . . . an important and compelling contribution.”
 — European Journal of Development Research

“The book is a major achievement, setting the standard for rigorous evaluation of planning and delivering HIV prevention. It should be required reading . . . for all interested in developing or evaluating social interventions to promote health.”
 — Health Education Research

“This is a splendid and courageous book. . . . Tidily organised, properly directed and well-written. It will be significant reading for health and AIDS activists, those involved in development studies and social theorists of various stripes.”
 — Journal of Health Psychology

“A superb ethnography of a leading HIV/AIDS prevention programme . . . There is an honesty in Campbell's writing that makes uncomfortable reading”
 — New Political Economy

“A remarkable book . . . a signal example of why Campbell is considered one of the foremost researchers on HIV and AIDS. It is trenchant, troubling, meticulously reasoned and compellingly written. ”
 —  New England Journal of Medicine

“ . . . of universal interest . . . a guidebook for anyone running or working in a health related programme in a developing country . . .”
 — African Review of Books

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Table of Contents

Preliminary Table of Contents:
Part 1. Sexuality and Sexual Health in the Summertown Mining Community: Context and Concepts
1. Sexuality, Participation, and Social Change
2. "Going underground and going after women": HIV Transmission amongst Mineworkers
3. Mobilizing a Local Community to Prevent HIV/AIDS: The Summertown Project
4. Community, Participation, and Sexual Health: Conceptual Challenges
Part 2. Sexuality, Sexual Health, and Peer Education amongst Summertown Sex Workers
5. The Social Organization of Commercial Sex Work
6. Sex Workers Organize to Fight HIV Transmission: Community-Led Peer Education in an Informal, "Hard-to-Reach" Setting
7. Factors Shaping the Success of Community Mobilisation in Informal Settings
Part 3. Sexuality and Sexual Health amongst Young People in Summertown
8. HIV Transmission amongst Young People: Gender, Social Norms, and Sexuality
9. Changing Young People's Sexual Behavior?: Youth-Led Participatory HIV Prevention in Summertown
Part 4. Power, Participation, and Political Will: The Context of HIV Prevention Efforts
10. Make or Break: Stakeholder Collaboration in Project Planning
11. Make or Break: Technical Capacity and Grassroots Identification with Project Goals
12. Commitment, Conceptualization, and Capacity