Helen Epstein

Helen Epstein is a writer specializing in public health and an adjunct professor at Bard College. She has advised numerous organizations, including the United States Agency for International Development, the World Bank, Human Rights Watch, and UNICEF. She is the author of The Invisible Cure: Why We Are Losing the Fight Against AIDS in Africa and has contributed articles to many publications, including The New York Review of Books and The New York Times Magazine. Research for her article in the December 18, 2014 issue was supported by a grant from the Investigative Fund at 
the Nation Institute.

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  • Who's Afraid of African Democracy?

    May 21, 2015

    A decade after the peace process in Burundi came to what seemed a successful conclusion, and despite billions of dollars in humanitarian aid, the country appears to be falling apart again.

  • Liberia: The Hidden Truth About Ebola

    October 27, 2014

    Even as Ebola hysteria rages in the US, the epidemic here in Liberia, which is supposed to be its epicenter, seems to be subsiding.

  • Uganda's Anti-Gay Law: The Missing Science

    February 26, 2014

    Uganda’s president claims he signed an anti-gay bill into law because there is no evidence that homosexuality is determined by a person’s genes. But my own research suggests homosexuality, and all sexual preference for that matter, is probably at least partly genetic.

  • Why Are We Funding Abuse in Ethiopia?

    March 14, 2013

    Mistreatment by the government is nothing new in Ethiopia, an essentially one-party state in which virtually all human rights activity and independent media is banned. But what makes the latest case particularly outrageous is that the Ethiopian government may be using World Bank money—some of which comes from US taxpayers—to finance it.

  • Obama: Failing the African Spring?

    February 25, 2013

    The Obama administration is turning its back on Africa’s most promising and important nonviolent human rights campaign since the anti-apartheid struggle.

  • The Wrong Way to Fight Polio

    December 22, 2012

    The killings in Pakistan this week of nine members of a Polio vaccination team were heinous. But they also point to some serious problems with a UN-led campaign to eradicate Polio.

  • South Africa's AIDS Orphans: Breaking the Silence

    July 18, 2012

    When I first visited South Africa in 2000 to report on the AIDS epidemic there, one adult in five was HIV positive, and a million children had lost one or both parents to the disease. But what really amazed me was that no one was talking about this. Silence gripped the nation like a spell. People with obvious AIDS symptoms told me they were suffering from “ulcers” or “tuberculosis” or “pneumonia.” Orphans said their parents had “gone away” or had been “bewitched” by a jealous neighbor. Now, five courageous teenagers from a Cape Town slum have made a fifteen-minute film called Young Carers: Through Our Eyes about what it’s like to lose a parent to AIDS. It’s one of the most powerful films about the epidemic I’ve ever seen.

  • What the US Is Ignoring in Uganda

    July 19, 2011

    During the Cold War, Western nations supported numerous African tyrants who brutalized their own people and held economic and social development back for decades. This did our international reputation no good, and helped create some of the most serious foreign policy problems we face today. Now it seems, we are doing it again in Uganda.