Today is World AIDS Day, founded by the United Nations in 2004 as a way to raise awareness about the global disease, commemorate those who have died from it, and celebrate new medial advances. Although we still have a long way to go before curing the deadly disease, many sufferers around the world, even in poor nations, now take medication allowing them to live relatively normal lives. But when antiretroviral drugs were first discovered in the 1990s, treatment was mostly reserved for wealthy Westerners. Vinh-Kim Nguyen's new book The Republic of Therapy: Triage and Sovereignty in West Africa’s Time of AIDS argues that during the years when antiretroviral medicines were scarce in Africa, triage decisions were made determining who would receive lifesaving treatment. Nguyen explains how those decisions altered social relations in West Africa. In 1994, anxious to "break the silence" and "put a face to the epidemic," international agencies unwittingly created a market in which stories about being HIV positive could be bartered for access to limited medical resources. Being able to talk about oneself became a matter of life or death. Nguyen's book is an important cautionary tale for those continuing to work on HIV in Africa. If you're in the New York area, you can hear him talk about his book and pick up a copy for yourself. He'll be speaking at the New York Academy of Medicine tomorrow, December 2, at 5:30 p.m.