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Sant'Egidio's Dream

How a Catholic People's Movement Is Meeting the Challenge of AIDS in Africa and Shaping the Future of Global Health

By Roberto Morozzo della Rocca
Afterword by Paul Elie, Foreword by Jeffrey D. Sachs, Translated by Caroline Swinton
The story of an innovative program of treatment for AIDS in Africa that succeeded in the face of international development agencies' "afro pessimism"

Until this century, Western governments and foundations framing policies for AIDS relief in Africa maintained that prevention alone was a preferable alternative to prevention-plus-treatment, which would be costly and impractical in Africa, or would benefit only the prosperous and well-connected.

Sant'Egidio's Dream
argues that this initial, failed approach to AIDS in African countries reflects a global moral blindness to the imperative to save lives–which was not lost on the Community of Sant'Egidio, an Italian, Catholic social movement rooted in "the gospel and friendship" and present in 70 countries. Drawing on two decades of peacemaking and humanitarian experience in Africa, the movement grasped the evidence that HIV, if treated, does not lead to AIDS and to death–and saw that treatment gives hope in Africa just as it does in the developed world. By enabling large numbers of people to live with a chronic disease, and involving family and neighbors in free and effective care, it offers a dream of a society surviving and even thriving in spite of HIV. In 2002, Sant Egidio established the DREAM (Drug Resource Enhancement Against AIDS and Malnutrition) project, a community-based approach to the AIDS crisis, rooted in medicine, epidemiology, and public health, that has proven effective in ten countries where it has been implemented–and has emerged as a model for healthcare in the global South.

About the Authors

Roberto Morozzo della Rocca is a professor of Modern History at the University of Rome. He has published numerous books and articles on the history of modern Europe, Catholicism, and Africa.

Caroline Swinton graduated in French and European studies at University of East Anglia, where she studied French and European Studies. Soon afterwards she moved to Italy and started her work as a translator. She has been the English translator for Sant'Egidio's DREAM program since its start, in 2002.

Reviews

"Sant'Egidio's Dream tells the moving story of how the Sant'Egidio community's work helped transform the global response to AIDS in Africa. Through closeness to suffering people built on friendship and partnership with those infected, Sant'Egidio's unconventional approach helped fight AIDS effectively. A must read for all working to help those who suffer."—David Hollenbach, SJ, Pedro Arrupe Distinguished Research Professor, Georgetown University

"Pope Francis often praises what he calls the 'social poets' of grassroots movements as catalysts who can change the course of history. In this deeply researched and compelling narrative, Roberto Morozzo della Rocca chronicles the unique story of how a faith-inspired global movement demonstrated the moral leadership to turn the tide on the AIDS crisis in the face of apathy and bureaucratic inertia."—John Gehring, author, The Francis Effect: A Radical Pope's Challenge to the American Catholic Church

"Sant'Egidio's Dream is at once a story of devastating social inequalities and health disparities but also of hope and social solidarity. In a time of increasing fragmentation and polarization, it serves as both a work of history and a necessary guidebook for the future."—Christopher White, Vatican correspondent, National Catholic Reporter

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