The Book

28 true stories - stories of love, of loss, of courage, of survival

What is 28?

28: Stories of AIDS in Africa

A portion of the proceeds from the sale of this book in each country is being donated to AIDS support organizations in Africa.

From an internationally acclaimed journalist comes an extraordinary book that puts a human face on the AIDS crisis in Africa: twenty-eight vivid stories, one for each of the million Africans living with the virus.

For the past six years, Stephanie Nolen has traced AIDS across Africa, and 28 is the result: an unprecedented, uniquely human portrait of the continent in crisis. Through riveting, anecdotal stories, she brings to life men, women, and children involved in every aspect of the pandemic, making them familiar to us in a way they never have been before. In the process, she explores the effects of an epidemic that well exceeds the Black Plague in scope, and the reasons why we must care about what happens.

In every instance, Nolen has borne witness to the stories she relates, whether riding with truck driver Mohammed Ali on a journey across Kenya; following Tigist Haile Michael, a smart, shy fourteen-yearold Ethiopian orphan fending for herself and her baby brother on the slum streets of Addis Ababa; chronicling the heroic efforts of Alice Kadzanja, an HIV-positive nurse in Malawi; or talking to Nelson Mandela and his wife about coming to terms with his own son's death from AIDS.

These stories reveal how HIV works and spreads; how it is inextricably tied to conflict and famine and to the diverse cultures it has ravaged; how treatment works, and how people who can't get treatment fight to stay alive with courage and dignity against huge odds.
Writing with power and simplicity, Stephanie Nolen makes us listen, allows us to understand, and inspires us to care. Timely and transformative, 28: Stories of AIDS in Africa is essential reading for anyone concerned about the fate of humankind.



"This book is both brilliant and enraging, and contains accounts of some extraordinary people doing courageous things to fight the epidemic which go a long way to counter other stories of hopelessness, ignorance and corrupt or inept government ... It is a call to arms to a battle we should all have been fighting for a very long time." —The Observer (London)

"These stories offer astonishing glimpses of the people of a continent brought to its knees….graceful, often memorable portraits are chosen from among the lucky few who came back from the dead. " —The Los Angeles Times

"She is an evocative and empathetic writer, and her journalism doesn't succumb to the affliction of so much other writing about Africa, the tendency to reduce people to categories that fit the reader's, and the author's, preconceptions..." —The Nation (New York)

"In 28, Nolen marshals the reporting and storytelling skills that have made her, after UN special envoy Stephen Lewis, this country's most compelling and vigorous voice for action on the grim parasite worming its way across Africa. In clear, insightful prose and vivid, though never lurid, detail , she allows her characters—one for every million people—to tell tales of despair and remarkable courage, willful ignorance and improbable triumph."
—The Gazette (Montreal)

"Nolen puts a very human face on HIV/AIDS in Africa. . . . Nolen sees beneath the surfaces of these individuals, estranged and all but destroyed by governmental ineptitude and denial, and evinces their loves and hopes and family ties, their humanness, with which all others can identify."

"Never sentimental, Nolen lets the people and their experiences speak for themselves. The result is both an informative and a powerful read , which will help Western readers connect personally with a crisis that too often seems remote. . . . A unique, valuable contribution to the literature on this important topic."Library Journal

"A kind of continental survey of the impact of the AIDS pandemic on Africa, in stories that are frequently both tragically sad and just as often hugely inspiring. "— The Calgary Herald

"A book of quiet yet overwhelming power, delivering a message of devastating moral authority. Moving, heartrending and uplifting, Stephanie Nolen's book bears impeccable witness to the 'unique and savage' phenomenon of AIDS in Africa."
— William Boyd, author of Restless and Brazzaville Beach

"If a war had killed 20 million soldiers, and left 28 million more dying of wounds, we'd call it the worst such tragedy since World War II. This is the scale of AIDS in Africa. Stephanie Nolen brings this story to life in a moving, deeply human way. Through these portraits—shrewdly chosen, varied, and sometimes startlingly unexpected—she artfully puts a series of human faces on the greatest health crisis of our time."
— Adam Hochschild, author of King Leopold's Ghost and Bury the Chains

 "The marvelous gift of Stephanie Nolen's 28 is that it allows the reader a chance to mingle, a chance to hob-nob, with fascinating and eloquent people from across sub-Saharan Africa. Professors and sex-workers, truckers and doctors, old ladies and orphaned children, celebrities and beggars, all raise their voices here. The music of these combined voices is intelligent and pained; it sings to us of suffering, stigma, compassion, courage, and heartrending love."
— Melissa Fay Greene, author of There Is No Me Without You

 "AIDS in Africa is an enigma. The more it spreads, the less we see it. It is deadly yet deniable. It hides in full view of everyone. What this moving book does is to catch it by the tail and show us its face— it is our own."
— Christopher Hope, author of My Mother's Lovers 

"According to UNAIDS, the number of HIV-infected people in Africa is 28 million.  But Nolen, veteran Toronto Globe & Mail Africa bureau chief, doesn't believe it: after nine years of reporting on the epidemic, she thinks that number is conservative.  Here she offers 28 searing portraits of Africans affected by the deadly virus.  Scattered across the continent from the slums of Lagos, Nigeria, to the bush in southern Zambia, these Africans present a mosaic of a continent in crisis and a collective cry for help.  She examines the role of soldiers, a "key vector" for AIDS, through the tale of Andeualam Ayalew, a commando who was kicked out of the Ethiopian army after testing positive for HIV.   He learned of AIDS prevention at a clinic, and, risking arrest, returned to his unit to teach his former comrades and other soldiers about using condoms.  Agnes Munyiva, a prostitute for 30 years, who has had contact with thousands of men in a slum outside Nairobi, Kenya, does not have HIV.  Her natural immunity has brought doctors and researchers from as far away as Canada to study her.  With a seasoned journalist's finesse, Nolen effortlessly weaves technical information -- health statistics, disease data, NGO reports -- into these deeply intimate glimpses of people often overlooked in the flood of contemporary media.  Nolen's book packs a real emotional wallop."
Publishers Weekly