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Topics in International Health: HIV/AIDS.
  1. A J Winter
  1. Department of Genitourinary Medicine, Sandyford Initiative, Glasgow G3 7NB

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    £30 for individuals, £20 or £45 for institutions in developing countries, and £120 for “first world” institutions, post inclusive with a 30 day money back guarantee. CD-Roms are not Apple Mac compatible. Oxon: CABI Publishing, 2000.

    So the clinic's not going well—you've too many patients and four students have all rolled up at once. Trouble is, they are all bearing evaluation forms, and hanging around the corridor is not going to be great for departmental kudos in the medical school teaching stakes. CD-Roms are now the standard fall back for a loose half hour—and this one is definitely the way to get top ratings. It is superbly designed with a host of easy features. Technically there were no problems with installation, and the package ran happily on a Pentium 100 with limited memory, which is welcome when the latest PCs remain out of reach to most in the NHS or in resource-poor countries.

    The CD-Rom covers the whole of HIV/AIDS from testing through opportunistic disease to the psychosocial and community impact of the unfolding epidemic. The well crafted material is grouped into 11 tutorials with 50-odd pages each, broken up with well designed interactive quizzes to aid factual recall, such as matching HIV prevalence to world region by dragging numbers across a map. In the best educational fashion, wrong answers are met with a gentle reminder of the right answer and an offer to review the section again. A glossary is just a click away should a word be unclear, and a full reference list is hidden on each page for those wanting to explore more. A separate section allows incredibly flexible searching of a rich international collection of over 700 images by keyword or text. These can then be viewed as thumbnails for rapid review, tagged for later printing, or saved in a personalised teaching set. Sneaking the illustrations onto my own 35 mm slides proved beyond my hacking ability, but I wanted to shows just how good the pictures are.

    Improvements for the next edition might include integrating the references with Medline abstracts (for example, offering searches for other works on the subject of interest or finding works which cite the article in question), and including more video material such as interviews with key players in the field

    On a deeper level, such an international approach to teaching HIV/AIDS fits well with the emphasis of the recent international AIDS conference on the whole HIV epidemic, not just the treatment options open to those affected by HIV in resource-rich countries. The sections on treatment reflecting mainly resource-rich practices sit uneasily with the pictures of AIDS orphans and underfunded African hospitals. That this CD-Rom left me feeling uncomfortable about the structural inequity of the world is testament to the vision of its creators.

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