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HIV/AIDS. CABI Publishing 1999. £30

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  2. HIV/AIDS. CABI Publishing 1999. £30

This CD-ROM is one of a series designed as an educational resource aimed at medical and life science students, health care professionals, academics and researchers. It contains 11 interactive tutorials including an overview; the biology of HIV; its natural history; infections and malignancies; epidemiology; transmission and risk factors; prevention; diagnosis and monitoring; issues related to women and children; management; social and psychological aspects.

The tutorials are structured learning materials designed to be worked through from the beginning to the end. Each contains about 50 screens, and many of the screens have text boxes which can be opened for further information. There are also two or three question and answer assessments in each tutorial, which are fun to do and act as an excellent method of consolidating the information in previous sheets. The information is presented in a simple and easy-to-read style. References to bibliography are omitted from the text, but can be viewed by opening a separate screen on each page. A glossary which explains scientific and medical terms in lay terms is provided. Finally, the CD-ROM includes a comprehensive set of images, including various photographs of HIV-associated infections.

The information is up-to-date and the tutorials provide a reasonably detailed overview of each subject area and will be useful, particularly for students and health care professionals. Those requiring more detailed information, for example academics and researchers writing grant proposals, will need to use other sources.

Data on sub-Saharan Africa are lacking in this series. Since this area carries by far the greatest burden, a greater emphasis on issues important to this region would have been useful. Issues requiring further detail include: access to health care; differences in HIV-1 prevalence between different countries and the possible factors associated with these; survival rates in Africa and how these compare to those in the West; natural history of HIV-2 infections; recommendations relating to chemoprophylaxis, including with isoniazid and cotrimoxazole; recommendations relating to breastfeeding; and the role of high-risk groups such as sex-workers in enhancing HIV-1 transmission.

The CD-ROM is convenient to use and to carry. A few minor changes would increase its user friendliness. For example, being able to view the tutorials on a full screen (rather than on about half a screen) and to conduct global searches for information would be useful. Overall the CD-ROM will act as a useful resource of information to many people working in the area of HIV/AIDS.