Sunday Brunch #2 | HIV/AIDS in YA Lit Week edition

Hi everyone!
I hope no one suffered too much from the cold! And yes I know, it is nearly dinner time but, let's face it, it is *never* too late to brunch!
The main idea of this feature is to talk about books without it being a review (where I only talk about one book and its themes) or a meme (because it doesn't leave much place to debate sometimes).

HIV/AIDS in Young Adult Literature Week

Today begins my HIV/AIDS in Young Adult Literature Week where some fellow bloggers and myself will review some amazing Young Adult novels which talk about the very serious issue of AIDS.
The idea for the week comes from the fact that I have had in my head a story with an HIV positive character for years. It is the novel that I am trying to finish writing this year (though it doesn't look too promising now!). I am at a point where I need to do serious research and I wanted to read other YA novels involving a character with AIDS. To be honest, before I decided doing this, I had never read a Young Adult novel on the theme.
Two members of my family had AIDS and even though I have never met either of them (one passed away before I was born and the other while I was very young), I have heard my family talk about them. I have always been shocked that AIDS has always been considered as a "dirty" disease, one you should be ashamed of, one which you "deserve" because of your lifestyle. It always seemed so terrible to me that not only you had to fight a terrible disease, but you also had to hide it or go through discriminations, violations and insults/violence. A lot of the negative comments on HIV come from a limited knowledge of the disease and the fear it might create for people, here are a few facts and information.

When you talk about HIV, half of the people think "homosexual disease" or one which is "only in Africa". Sadly, no one is immune to it and today 33.3 million people live with HIV worldwide. In 2009, 2.6 million people were newly infected with the virus*. AIDS is a pandemic, which is an epidemic of an infectious disease that is spreading through human populations across a large region or worldwide. 

AIDS means Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome and HIV means Human Immunodeficient Virus. When you have HIV, you have a virus which slowly attacks your immune system (the part of the body which usually works to fight off germs such as bacteria and virus). AIDS is the last stage of the virus which reduces the effectiveness of the immune system and leaves the person susceptible to infections and other evil things. It means that someone with AIDS can die of diseases that a healthy person can fight off relatively easily.

How do you get HIV
HIV is transmitted through direct contact of a mucous membrane or the bloodstream with a bodily fluid including HIV such as blood, semen, vaginal fluid, preseminal fluid and breast milk. In other terms, unprotected sex, sharing needles to inject drugs and breast-feeding a baby are dangerous when one of the person has the virus (and even without the virus for unprotected sex and drugs). You do not catch the virus by standing next to someone infected or shaking his or her hand.

There is sadly no cure to the virus, but there are some treatment which can slow the progression of the disease, notably antiretroviral medication (used since 1996). Antiretroviral medication can reduce both the mortality and the morbidity of the infection, but the medication is very expensive, has several second effects and not all countries have access to the medication.
Since treating HIV is extremely difficult, preventing the spread of the disease is key. Prevention comes through information and programs promoting safe sex and needle and syringe programs (where needles and syringes are given for little or no cost to drug users).
The author Gillian Philip posted an article on the issue on her blog after reading an article on the BBC website about a drop in Uganda's HIV rate with the publication of explicit sex books.

The Week
World AIDS Day will be on the first of December and during this week fellow bloggers and myself will try to bring awareness by reviewing fiction books aimed at young adults. The lovely Carly (Writing From The Tub), Lyndsey (Heaven, Hell and Purgatory) and Michelle (Fluttering Butterflies) have kindly agreed to review a book on Portrait of a Woman during the week and other bloggers will post reviews on their blogs: Emma (Asamum), Luisa (Chicklish), Jessica (Nayu's Reading Corner), Iffath (Love Reading X), Lauren (I Was A Teenage Book Geek), Sarah (Sarah's Book reviews - who made the gorgeous logo!), Kristi (The Story Siren) and others! Thank you so much to all of you for participating in the week and making a difference, you guys are the best!
Many thanks to Piccadilly Press and Lynda Waterhouse, author of Soul Love, for helping me with this week. I cannot express enough my gratitude. Thank you a million!

If you are a book blogger, you can post the "YA Book Bloggers Raise Awareness" logo on your blog, linking it to the World AIDS Day website which has plenty information and testimonies or to my page of the week. I have a compiled a non exhaustive bibliography of YA fictions with HIV/AIDS theme here.

Other news!

The blog:
As I anticipated, I am failing at NaNoWriMo but *oh well* :D
I also have tidied up my blog, though it doesn't show much :) (I put one and only "features" page instead of one for each!)

This week I read two absolutely awesome novels for my HIV/AIDS in YA Lit Week Fade To Black by Alex Flinn and My Brother Has AIDS by Deborah Davis and I loved them, review to come next week!
I have also read the unbelievably charming Empress of the World by Sara Ryan and let me tell you that I have fallen in love for this book, you definitely should read it! I loved it so much that I bought its companion novel The Rules For Hearts!
I received Matched by Ally Condie for review this week! Thank you so much to Penguin for sending it (twice, after the first one got lost!).
I know this isn't exactly a bookish piece of news but I saw The Girl Who Kicked The Hornet's Nest Friday and I love Lisbeth Salander so bad that I will definitely be reading the Stieg Larsson trilogy soooooon!!! And though you don't need my opinion on the subject, I think the American remake is completely *unnecessary*.

Stuff I read and want to share:
I completely forgot to link to it last week but the wonderful Kinna (Kinna Reads) organised a fascinating Ghana Literature Weekhere is her week wrap-up with the links to all reviews. The lovely Amy (Amy Reads) participated in the week and reviewed Young Adult novels in particular (here are the reviews' link). 
Amy has also written a post about why she reads Nigerian Literature.
Lauren (I Was A Teenage Book Geek) went to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter and I am jealous! Look at her drinking butterbeer and tell you how it was!
Jessica (Nayu's Reading Corner) has issues with Anonymous Commenters on her blog, one who went as far as writing a death threat to a writer on a review (read here)
Cat Clarke's debut novel Entangled, which will be published in January 2011, has a gorgeous trailerwatch it here!

I hope you will enjoy the week!

Have a lovely Sunday evening,

x Caroline


  1. Fantastic post. I'm looking forward to reading all the reviews this week.

  2. I'm really excited for the HIV/AIDS week ;) I've learnt a lot from the one book I've read and I'm going to try and raise some awareness at school..I think they did some fundraising a while ago, I have one of those red ribbons on my bag :)

    I think I've heard of Alex Flinn somewhere, I'll have to check out Fade to Black! And yay for Matched! Hope you enjoy it x

  3. Thanks for your messages!
    And it's amazing if you can raise awareness at school Iffath! It would be fantastic :)
    Alex Flinn is known for having written Beastly, which was turned in a film, maybe that's where you heard the name!

  4. Great post Caroline, I'm looking forward to taking part in your HIV / AIDS week :o) I've finished Soul Love & am currently reading Abela so I will let you know when the reviews have been posted

  5. I love these Sunday Brunch posts. This week's is so educational - I didn't know HIV had quite so high an infection rate. That's pretty scary. I'm going to be reviewing Positively for your event this week, and I'm really glad you prompted me to read it.

    Thanks for linking to my HP post, too!

  6. Thanks so much for highlighting HIV/AIDS and World AIDS Day. I saw you're working on a manuscript now; if you ever need help finding sources, I'd be happy to give some advice as I write about health and HIV for a living (and YA fiction in my free time). There's so much misinformation and outdated information about HIV. A lot of people don't realize just how bad it is particularly among minority youth. Scary statistic: Washington, DC (in the U.S.) has a higher HIV rate than 5 sub-Saharan African countries. Here are a couple of links (one international and one national) about HIV that you might find interesting:
    and this one my company did:

  7. What a great idea to highlight books that talk about HIV/AIDS, especially for young adults. I'll be watching with interest! Also, thank you so much for sharing about my posts :)

  8. Hey Caroline, I just wanted to let you know I've posted my reviews for Abela: The Girl Who Saw Lions & Soul love for HIV/AIDS week. I'll be posting my Playing With Fire Review tomorrow :o) I've really enjoyed reading everyone's reviews so far!

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