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The Impatient Dr. Lange

, 208 pages

5 b&w photos

September 2018



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The Impatient Dr. Lange

One Man's Fight to End the Global HIV Epidemic


When Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 was shot down by pro-Russian rebels in July 2014, the world wondered if a cure for HIV had fallen from the sky and disappeared among the burning debris. Seated in the plane’s business-class cabin was Joseph Lange, better known as Joep, a shrewd Dutch doctor who had revolutionized the world of HIV and AIDS and was working on a cure.

Dr. Lange graduated from medical school in 1981, right as a new plague swept across the globe. His story became intertwined with the story of HIV. At once a physician, scientist, AIDS activist, and medical diplomat, Lange studied ways to battle HIV and prevent its spread from mother to child. Fighting the injustices of poverty, Lange advocated for better access to health care for the poor and the vulnerable. He championed the drug cocktail that finally helped rein in the disease and was a vocal proponent of prophylactic treatment for those most at risk of contracting HIV.

The Impatient Dr. Lange is the story of one man’s struggle against a global pandemic—and the tragic attack that may have slowed down the search for a cure. Seema Yasmin charts the course of the HIV epidemic and Dr. Lange's career as a young doctor who blazed his own path and dedicated his life to HIV. Yasmin draws on written records, medical journals, recorded discussions, expert testimony, and extensive interviews with Lange’s family, friends, and colleagues around the globe—including the people he spoke to in the days before he died. She faithfully reconstructs key scenes from Lange’s life and the history of the AIDS epidemic, revealing how Lange became a global leader in the fight against AIDS.

The first book about Lange and his contributions to the fight against HIV, The Impatient Dr. Lange is a powerful tribute to one of the greatest scientists, activists, humanitarians, and social entrepreneurs in the world of HIV/AIDS.

Seema Yasmin is a medical doctor, disease detective, journalist, poet, and John S. Knight Fellow at Stanford University, where she teaches global health storytelling.

"A remarkably well-written and engaging book. Yasmin brings out Lange's special personality and accomplishments while covering complex medical issues and situations understandably for the lay reader. Inspiring."

"The Impatient Dr. Lange is two things. It is first of all a thrilling history of the investigation of one of the greatest plagues in human history, written by a scientist who intimately understands the challenge that the HIV epidemic posed to humanity. It is also a eulogy for a great scientist, written by his younger protégé. These two strands combine for wonderful reading."

"Seema Yasmin does an excellent job of portraying Dr. Lange's character, as well as significant milestones in the history of the HIV/AIDS epidemic and the discovery of new drugs and technologies."

"More than just a biography, The Impatient Dr. Lange is a must-read for medical students and history buffs; it is also a sociopolitical overview of Europe and Africa in the 1980s and 1990s. The heartbreaking stories of HIV and AIDS patients across the globe, paired with Lange’s relentless drive, propel the narrative forward. Clear, concise, and thoroughly researched, this book shows how one person with ambition, compassion, hope, and the right resources can accomplish extraordinary things."


"Yasmin offers a vivid sense of Lange's complexity, his faults and virtues, and the people and the causes he loved... Readers interested in the history of HIV and AIDS or biographies of persons who played a significant role in global health will find this a fascinating read."

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