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Getting to Zero: A World AIDS Awareness Day Booklist

December 1st is the World Health Organization designated World AIDS Awareness Day. The theme is Getting to Zero: Zero new HIV infections. Zero discrimination. Zero deaths. In order to promote awareness, we’re sharing young adult books that feature characters who must deal with living with this disease.

Positively by Courtney Scheinmel

positively book cover

Thirteen-year-old Emmy, grieving over her mother who died of AIDS, resentful of having to live with her father and pregnant stepmother, and despairing about her future, finds hope at a summer camp for HIV-positive girls like herself. Includes facts about Elizabeth Glaser, one of the founders of the Pediatric AIDS Foundation.


Fade to Black by Alex Flinn

An HIV-positive high school student hospitalized after being attacked, the bigot accused of the crime, and the only witness, a classmate with Down Syndrome, reveal how the assault has changed their lives as they tell of its aftermath.



Chanda’s Secret by Allan Stratton 

chanda's secret book cover image

Sixteen-year-old Chanda Kabelo has secrets. She loves school and dreams of winning a scholarship one day, but people are dying around her. Everyone is afraid to say why, but Chanda knows: it’s because of Aids. A girl’s struggle amid the African AIDS pandemic, Chanda, is an astonishingly perceptive girl living in the small city of Bonang, a fictional city in Southern Africa. When her youngest sister dies, the first hint of HIV/AIDS emerges, Chanda must confront undercurrents of shame and stigma. Not afraid to explore the horrific realities of AIDS, Chanda’s Secrets also captures the enduring strength of loyalty, friendship and family ties. Above all, it is a story about the corrosive nature of secrets and the healing power of truth.

With or Without You by Brian Farrey

with or without you cover image

When eighteen-year-old best friends Evan and Davis of Madison, Wisconsin, join a community center group called “chasers” to gain acceptance and knowledge of gay history, there may be fatal consequences.



Quicksand by Anonymous

quicksand book image

Weaving together her own story with straightforward questions and answers, the author explains the real ways that HIV/AIDS can be transmitted and explores the common experiences and emotions that might be encountered by friends and family members of someone who has the virus. She also discusses why HIV/AIDS is often still kept a secret and the importance of treating this condition like any other. With up-to-date medical information that has been thoroughly vetted by experts, this first-person narrative offers an invaluable look at what it is like to watch someone you know battle HIV/AIDS.


Every nine and a half minutes, someone is infected with HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. For more information, check out Douglas County AIDS Project, a group committed to community education to prevent the spread of the disease as well as advocacy for those living with it.

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