Elizabeth Pisani's The Wisdom Of Whores Analysis

1313 Words 6 Pages
“Science does not exist in a vacuum.” The pursuit and dissemination of scientific knowledge is a result of interactions far beyond the laboratory environment; government funding, social perceptions and politics all affect the path of science. Epidemiologist Elizabeth Pisani’s button-pushing account of efforts to prevent the spread of HIV during the late 1990’s and early twenty-first century, The Wisdom of Whores, is guided by this idea. Pisani discusses the many ways that factors outside of science have shaped the war against HIV/AIDS. Incredibly accessible, accurate, and brutally honest, The Wisdom of Whores should be required reading for young adults.
Wisdom is effective in large part due to the relationship Elizabeth Pisani quickly forms
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The groups tasked with surveillance simply weren’t testing the right groups and collecting the most useful data. Pisani provides an example of a WHO recommended policy in 1989. The World Health Organization suggested that testing blood samples from pregnant women would effectively monitor HIV rates within communities, as pregnant women are members of the sexually active community. However, Pisani points out the flawed reasoning in this decision. In Africa, this is an acceptable procedure, but in Europe and the United States, pregnant women are not the most at risk for HIV infection- men who engage in anal sex with other men, patrons of prostitutes and drug injectors are. These social facts reinforce the Pisani’s point that “science does not exist in a vacuum.” In order to truly track diseases and monitor public health it is necessary to understand the people at risk, and why they are at …show more content…
In the case of the United States, the federal government often ignores the needs of prostitutes and drug injectors, who are at high-risk for contracting HIV, because their unsavory and illegal behavior is frowned upon. As a result, American funds allocated for HIV/AIDS programs are often mismanaged. Not enough money is spent on prevention and education campaigns and, during the time of the publication of Wisdom, countries the United States donated money to were prevented from aiding their sex workers and injectors. Far from only criticizing the American government, Pisani also decries Kofi Annan and many other African leaders’ code of silence regarding the relationship between HIV and sexual practices throughout the continent. HIV is a sexually transmitted disease, and it is impossible to contain a sexually transmitted disease without discussing sex. Pisani points out that while people are dying, politicians are blushing about genitals and anal sex, pretending neither

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