Throughout the 1980s and ’90s, millions suffered and died. Peter Piot and his co-workers struggled against official denial and corruption to prevent new infections, care for patients, set up clean blood banks and pull together the first international AIDS research initiatives. Piot offers a harrowing account of how the epidemic ravaged Africa, and how he tackled the near-impossible task as director of the fledgling agency UNAIDS.
Piot worked tirelessly to engage with AIDS groups and activists, win over world leaders including Mandela, Castro and Kofi Annan, and persuade the pharmaceutical industry to bring down the price of life-saving medicines. Over a few hectic years, he succeeded in mobilising billions of dollars in funding and co-ordinated political support for effective medical and social action to limit the pandemic and save uncounted lives.
Yet millions more died needlessly, and are still dying today. Throughout this book, Piot raises urgent questions that go to the heart of what it means to be human in today’s globalised world. Have we learned our lessons? Will we act to control the next pandemic or will ignorance and inertia prevail? And with AIDS again on the rise among vulnerable populations, how can we ensure that governments continue to take effective action?
Peter Piot is Director of the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine and Professor of Global Health. He was formerly Under Secretary General of the United Nations and founding Executive Director of UNAIDS, and President of the International AIDS Society. In 1995, he was knighted as a Baron in his native Belgium
No time to lose – Peter Piot