HIV Books for the Giving

‘Tis the season… actually, it’s always the season for a good read! We here at A&U have reviewed several books this year that will inform and delight any reader who lives with HIV or cares about those who do. From fictionalized accounts of the HIV/AIDS epidemic in New York City to a memoir by a doctor working to eradicate HIV/AIDS in Botswana, from a book of poetry exploring the intersection of race and HIV to an illustrated children’s biography of iconic artist Keith Haring, these books will fill your loved ones’ stockings—and your own! — with laughter, tears, insight, and inspiration. Happy shopping — and Happy Reading!

The HIV Book Project
Philip Shipton, Roy Wilkins;
“The HIV Book Project, a 140-page collaborative work documenting the lives of twenty HIV-positive people from a diverse range of backgrounds, using interviews by Shipton and photography by Wilkins to explore the realities of their living with the HIV virus since the 1980s. Completely peer-driven, the project was ‘conceived, coordinated, photographed and documented by HIV positive people,’ a point of pride for Mr. Shipton.”

Stonewall Strong
John-Manuel Andriote; Rowman & Littfield
“John-Manuel Andriote has combined his own personal story of being a PLWHIV with an amazingly detailed examination of how the LGBTQ community refused to lie down and die and instead formed a genuine community to care for one another, to fight our government’s indifference, to combat pharmaceutical companies’ greed, and to erase the stigma that, unfortunately, continues to attach to HIV/AIDS to this day. This is a testament to “the personal is political” like no other I’ve read.”

A Piece of Me with HIV
Shyronn Jones; CreateSpace
“A Piece of Me with HIV” is a compelling and valuable document of one young black woman’s journey through an HIV diagnosis. Shyronn Jones shares a frank and riveting tale of what it’s like for a young woman brought up in the housing projects of New York City… to go from a girl who carefully guarded her virginity to a girl receiving the news of a life-changing sexually transmitted virus… an honest tale of that dichotomy, what led a girl brought up with some strong female role models down the wrong path.”

One Life at a Time: An American Doctor’s Memoir of AIDS in Botswana
Daniel Baxter, MD; Skyhorse Publishing, Inc.

“…a remarkable record of one distinguished, skilled, dedicated physician’s courageous efforts to confront the AIDS crisis in Botswana beginning in the early 2000s… a valuable record of one doctor’s fight against AIDS in sub-Saharan Africa.”



We Kiss Them with Rain
Futhi Ntshingila; Catalyst Press

“…a beautiful narrative full of three-dimensional characters. She brings them, as well as the South African culture and landscape, to life vividly and entertains us as well as informs. It is a much-needed look at the AIDS crisis and a continent and country that has been hit so hard. In doing so, however, it still provides us with much hope for the future.”



David Cornish, MD; BookBaby
“There were more than a few doctors who were at the forefront of diagnosing AIDS early on and this fascinating book offers a fictionalized portrait of their tireless work. It is an interesting, if technically heavy read, that gets to the heart of one of the most frightening mysteries of modern medicine. Medical professionals will find it fascinating and the the general public, compelling.”


Corrupted: One Gay American’s Story of Breaking Bad on PrEP
Joey Wagner; Amazon
“…an important tale…about a young man who knew he was taking too many risks with his health sexually and decided to go on PrEP—he was one type of individual for which the drug was intended. He does his homework, providing valuable and well-researched information about the prevention tool to others like him.”



Powered by Love: A Grandmothers’ Movement to End AIDS in Africa
Joanna Henry, with Ilana Landsberg-Lewis; edited by Michele Landsberg, photos by Alexis MacDonald; Goose Lane
“…a book that will both break your heart wide open and inspire you. The strength of these women is phenomenally moving; so is the way that women from two different countries came together. ‘The grandmothers,’ says Sarah Obama, the grandmother of former President Barack Obama and a tireless advocate of the orphans, ‘have empowered each other.’”


Between the Pages: Where Trials Become Triumph!
Thaïs Sherell J.; N-Spired Productions

“The book becomes just one more way that Joyce A. McDonald can testify. As a portrait of risk, in an environment whose edges are made sharp by racial and gender oppression, Between the Pages is a clarion call for women everywhere to name the wolves that chase them and start the healing by turning prey into pray.”


A Day in the Life of Marlon Bundo

Marlon Bundo (with Jill Twiss); illustrations, EG Keller; Chronicle Books

“…a children’s picture book that imagines the story of Marlon, the Bunny of the United States (BOTUS), who meets the bunny of his dreams… AIDS United CEO Jesse Milan, Jr., stated ‘By celebrating Marlon Bundo’s differences, the book’s authors have created a powerful tool for teaching young people the value of diversity.'”


The Rest of It: Hustlers, Cocaine, Depression and Then Some, 1976–1988
Martin Duberman; Duke University Press
“…confirms Duberman’s status as one of our most brilliant and essential memoirists. This is clearly a skilled, dedicated historian’s memoir, as it minutely details the writer’s personal life while also grounding us in the political and social turmoil of the time. Unscathingly forthright…the memoir recounts the twelve years… that saw him tumble into unrelenting depression, drug abuse, and a wretched destructive relationship, followed by compulsive drug-fueled debauchery with hustlers, a near-fatal massive heart attack, rehab, and finally, grateful recovery.”

Black LGBT Health in the United States
Edited by Lourdes Dolores Follins & Jonathan Mathias Lassiter; Lexington Books
“While the book’s primary audience is SGL/T-identified scholars and policymakers—be they interested in Black bisexual women, Black LGBT youth (as defined problematically, top-down through institutions), Black women with cancer, etc.—it would be good for all people to read this book, to understand how it feels to be SGL/T in the U.S. today and join in the effort to improve quality of life for people of all colors and creeds.”



Don’t Call Us Dead
Danez Smith; Graywolf Press

“Smith explores the topics that are most painful for our culture today—the subjects we like talking about the least, and illustrates them with a beauty that is both painful and transformative. Don’t Call Us Dead is both an evocative elegy to the fallen young black men of today and a painful editorial exposing what has taken them from us. Whether it be the senseless violence of the police or the scourge of HIV/AIDS, Smith isn’t afraid to give it a name.”

Keith Haring: The Boy Who Just Kept Drawing
Kay A. Haring, text; Robert Neubecker, illustrations; Penguin Young Readers Group

“This boldly illustrated book will serve as an excellent child’s introduction to the iconic pop artist, the boy who, no matter what, just kept drawing. [Confirms Haring’s position as] one of the most beloved and most prolific artists of the late twentieth century, creating iconic images (the ‘radiant’ baby; the dancing figures; the barking dogs) that remain as fresh and vibrant as when they were new.”


Capture Theory
Joy Gaines-Friedler; Kelsey Books

“The poems in Capture Theory read like messages sent from between stations—a voice making its way from one point in a life to the next. These are remembrances and work done to put affairs in order along with poems of delight and discovery. ‘On your way about your life, at the mailbox or a stop light, your body remembers’ one poem announces; in another, ‘We’ve lived through the dying.’ I look forward to what comes next.”


The AIDS Activist Project
Bill Bytsura 

“The AIDS Activist Project book includes only portraits of ACT UP activists. The book is ‘a memorial tribute to the departed’ to those activists who’ve lost their battle with the virus, as well as a ‘reminder that the epidemic is not over.’ In the foreword, David France (How to Survive a Plague) writes, ‘Photographer Bill Bytsura set out to memorialize those individuals, along with the movement’s rank and file, mid-battle.…What he produced is a study in defiance. But the photos betray a deeper insight. Yes, you see the power and the strength, the awful resolve in their faces. But he has also found fear, and the mountains of unprocessed grief. These beautiful photographs…bring us as close as we may ever get to knowing what the plague years wrought. Just look into the eyes of the frontline warriors.’” Visit

The Great Believers
Rebecca Makkai; Viking

“…engagingly brings to life a large extended family of young gay men who rely on each other for support Their lives and losses are documented with warmth. Many of these men have been rejected by their traditional families and carry that loss with them as they deal with disease and death. The Great Believers is a rich and satisfying narrative of two distinct points in its characters’ lives. Many of Fiona’s friends don’t make it—they are lost in time—but they are always with her and with the reader. Rich in characters as full of life as any lost or still hanging on, this is a novel of great feeling and clarity.

A&U reviews by John Francis Leonard, Alina Oswald, Chael Needle, Noah Stetzer, and Hank Trout