Pandemic books week 5: AIDS Conspiracy Theories

We’re now in the fifth week of our pandemic book project. To recap, what we’re doing is producing a public domain, open-copyright, or bootleg edition we haven’t done before and don’t plan to do again in a short run each week, selling it for $10 +shipping, and after paying our costs sending whatever money is left over to an organization that serves vulnerable people in our city.

This week we are examining the social and political role of misinformation during a pandemic, and the terrible consequences, by reprinting a 2000s pamphlet, AIDS Conspiracy Theories by David Gilbert, with commentary by Albert “Nuh” Washington. The book investigates the nature and probable origin of conspiracy theories about HIV and AIDS, and the consequences of those theories namely poorer health outcomes and a higher death rate in Africa and among incarcerated Black people in the United States, and among vulnerable populations in general. Although by this time HIV had been conclusively established as the cause of AIDS, conspiracy theories persisted, often promoted by well-funded “fringe” groups like the Lyndon Larouche organization, with real consequences for public health.

We’re looking forward to an analysis of shadowy actors behind the current COVID-19 conspiracy theories, and the consequences of those theories, when one is published. Until then, there’s this.

We still have a few copies of books from some of the previous weeks of this project. We’re also experiencing the same mail delays as everyone else, but we’re doing our best to fill these orders and get them shipped as quickly as possible. Any small profit left over after shipping costs and supplies will be donated: so far we have made small donations to Carnegie Community Action Project, Downtown Eastside Neighbourhood House, Downtown Eastside Womens Centre, and PACE Society. These aren’t big amounts, but this is a way for us to use artistic labour to help meet urgent needs in the community.

Softcover, 4.5×7″, 68 pages, manila cover, black page edge, $10 plus shipping.

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