Thursday, December 01, 2005

Random Notes

As today is World AIDS day, let me draw your attention to the statement by the UN's special envoy on AIDS to Africa:
The overwhelming majority of HIV-positive children are infected by the virus during and following the birthing process. Children infected in early infancy usually die before the age of two. There are more than half a million deaths of children from AIDS every year.

In many countries, primarily in Africa, there are programs in place called PMTCT, Prevention of Mother-to-Child Transmission. Unfortunately, most of these are merely pilot programs: fewer than ten per cent of HIV- positive pregnant women have access to PMTCT. That, in itself, is scandalous.

In most countries the PMTCT program uses what is called single-dose nevirapine - one tablet of that drug to the mother during labour and a liquid equivalent of the drug for the child within 48 hours of birth. Incredibly enough, the transmission is cut by close to 50 per cent! ... But compare it with North America, [where hospitals] use full antiretroviral triple-dose combination therapy from approximately 28 weeks through to the end of the pregnancy. The result? The transmission rate drops to between one and two per cent!!

Good reading: Jim McGuigan's article, "The Cultural Public Sphere." Via Space and Culture.

Some recent book acquisitions: The Collected Short Stories of Isaac Bashevis Singer, Uwe Timm's In my brother's shadow (attempt to imagine his brother who died fighting in Russia as a member of the SS), Shake Hands with the Devil (Romeo Dallaire's memoire of the Rwanda genocide), The Collected Stories of Isaac Babel, and Eyes to see otherwise (poems by Greek-Mexican author Homero Aridjis.)

Speaking of books, the NY Times has up its 10 Best Books of 2005 and 100 Notable Books of 2005. The latter is, surprisingly, light on fiction, and history is well represented. Tony Judt's Postwar, a book that I am eager to find as a cutout six months from now, made the former list. I am perpelxed by the absence of Orhan Pamuk's Istanbul, which everyone is welcome to purchase for me if they want to give me a gift.

Call for blogging: Sharon has proposed a symposium on the Old Bailey Proceedings, an online source for history of criminality and law in Early Modern England.

BTW, is there any interest in establish a symposium on Jewish themes for Channukah? Perhaps based on Martin Buber's I and Thou?

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