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The Aids Pandemic: Searching for a Global Response

The Aids Pandemic: Searching for a Global Response

New book provides insights on the AIDS pandemic – past, present and future


Professors at Mount Saint Mary’s and Duke co-author a rigorous and unflinching account of the inspiration and dysfunction at the heart of the global response to the AIDS pandemic.


LOS ANGELES, Sept. 26, 2017 — Dynamic leaders spearheaded the global response to the emergence of AIDS, but found themselves hampered by structural weaknesses in the United Nations, the political whims of governments and the complexities of the disease itself, according to the authors of a new book.

In “The AIDS Pandemic: Searching for a Global Response,” Michael Merson and Stephen Inrig identify key deficiencies and provide a clear analysis of the lessons that can, and should, be learned for improving the response to AIDS and future global pandemics.

This historical account illustrates how competitiveness, strategic differences and donor fickleness hampered the global response. The World Health Organization’s (WHO) Global Programme on AIDS (GPA) initially led the global response to AIDS, but donor governments shut the GPA down at the height of the pandemic. Merson’s and Inrig’s book serves as a cautionary tale on how the global health community can respond to pandemics.

As a director of the GPA, Michael Merson both participated in, and observed, the global response during the crucial early years of the pandemic. The book combines Merson’s personal experience with information and insights obtained from official documents, other sources and more than 125 interviews with major protagonists.

Despite the hurdles, much can be learned from the relentless commitment of charismatic leaders, courageous activists and generous donors. Their efforts alleviated human suffering through effective early-prevention programs and the provision of AIDS care in the world’s poorest communities.

“Responding to a global pandemic like AIDS is a complex process,” Merson said. “It requires a multifaceted response, an understanding of the reality of the global health governance infrastructure, and accountability by those leading and funding the response.”

Merson and Inrig believe this book can help inform and inspire the next generation of global health scholars and leaders.

“Our hope is that member States find the courage and political will to make needed reforms to the World Health Organization, in order for it to provide the necessary leadership,” Inrig said.

About the authors

Michael Merson is founding director of the Duke Global Health Institute and the Wolfgang Joklik Professor of Global Health at Duke University. He worked at the WHO between 1978 and 1995. As director of the WHO Global Programme on AIDS, he led the effort to mobilize and coordinate the global response to the pandemic.  

Stephen Inrig, a medical historian and health policy researcher, is associate professor of Health Policy and Management, and director of the Graduate Division program in Health Policy and Management at Mount Saint Mary’s University in Los Angeles.

About the book

Michael Merson and Stephen Inrig, authors.
“The AIDS Pandemic: Searching for a Global Response”
1st ed. 2018, XVIII, 445 p. 31 illus., 13 illus. in color.
Hardcover $149.00, €129.99, £97 ISBN 978-3-319-47132-7
Also available in soft cover (ISBN: 78-3-319-48431-0) and eBook (ISBN 978-3-319-47133-4)
Learn more and purchase copies via Springer Nature.

About Mount Saint Mary’s University
Mount Saint Mary’s is the only women’s university in Los Angeles and one of the most diverse in the nation. The University is known nationally for its research on gender equity, its innovative health and science programs, and its commitment to community service. As a leading liberal arts institution, Mount Saint Mary’s provides year-round, flexible and online programs at the undergraduate and graduate level. Weekend, evening and graduate programs are offered to women and men. Mount alums are engaged, active, global citizens who use their knowledge and skills to better themselves, their communities and the world. msmu.edu  

Contact: Phillip Jordan (310.709.0962)

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