War in the Blood

Sex, Politics and AIDS in Southeast Asia

Chris Beyrer

Updated and Expanded Edition


Builds on and expands Beyrer’s innovative work on HIV in Southeast Asia, exploring new strategies for effective HIV prevention.

Effective treatment for HIV and AIDS came in 1996. For sufferers in the developed world, this marked a true watershed moment: the end of the death sentence. But for many in the developing world, including in Southeast Asia, these new treatments remained far out of reach.

In his early thirties, following the loss of his partner to an AIDS-related illness, Chris Beyrer wrote the first edition of War in the Blood. Three decades later, having served as president of the International AIDS Society, he believes we have arrived at an extraordinary milestone. For the first time, a patient has been demonstrably cured of HIV, new vaccine trials in Thailand have shown great promise, and the PrEP programme genuinely works.

So why are over half of the estimated 38.8 million people living with HIV still not on treatment? War in the Blood is a labour of love, both a celebratory account of Southeast Asia and the story of our failure to protect those most vulnerable the world over – gay men, adolescent girls, sex workers, drug users, and transgender women. Beyrer offers an impassioned plea for our communities and governments – and our own hearts and minds – to stop denying the realities of sex, sexuality, and gender, and to take affirmative action.

Author Bio

Chris Beyrer is the Desmond Tutu Professor of Public Health and Human Rights at Johns Hopkins University, and was formerly President of the International AIDs Society. He has extensive experience in conducting international research and training programmes on HIV/AIDS around the world, and has served as an advisor on HIV prevention to international bodies including the World Bank, the United States Office of AIDs Research, and the Thai Red Cross. His other published works include the edited collection Public Health and Human Rights: Evidence-Based Approaches (2007).

Table of Contents

  • Preface to the Second Edition
  • Introduction
  • Part I: Countries
    • 1. Coming into the Region
    • 2. Thailand: The Descending Buddha
    • 3. Burma: Going to Myanmar, Being in Burma
    • 4. Cambodia: AIDs and the Torn Society
    • 5. Laos: Travels in the Cold War
    • 6. Malaysia: Ethnicity, Activism and AIDS
    • 7. Vietnam: Harm Reduction in the Balance
    • 8. Yunnan: China's Southeast Asia
  • Part II: People, Risks
    • 9. Women: Wives, Mothers, Daughters
    • 10. The Flesh Trade: Prostitution and Trafficking in ASEAN
    • 11. Military Studies
    • 12. Chasing the Dragon: Heroin and AIDS
    • 13. Tribes: The Virus that Kills the Gods
    • 14. The Displaced: Migrants, Refugees, IDPs and HIV
    • 15. Other Genders: Katoeys, Waria, Hinjras, Toms and Dees
    • 16. Chaai Chuay Chaai: Men Helping Men
    • 17. Prisons and Prisoners
    • 18. Activists
  • Part III: Relativity and Culture
    • 19. Drugs Wars and the War on Drugs
    • 20. Brethren: HIV, Gay Men, and Prevention Equity
    • 21. Medical Ethics, Human Rights, Asian Values
    • 22. The Proper Study of Mankind
    • 23. Conclusion: Condoms or Landmines


‘As timely and relevant today as it was when it was first published, telling a deeply personal account of the AIDS epidemic and the people still being left behind.’
Michel Sidibé, Executive Director of UNAIDS

‘Beyrer writes with the rigour of an outstanding scientist, and the compassion and energy of a tireless advocate.’
Peter Piot, Director of the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine

‘Beyrer has an almost encyclopaedic knowledge of the global HIV epidemic that this book so richly describes. More than any other Western researcher, he understands the cultural and political factors that impact local epidemics.’
Adeeba Kamarulzaman, Dean of the University of Malaya Faculty of Medicine

‘Offers honest insights on sex between men, drug use, sex work, and transgender people in Southeast Asia. Chris Beyrer offers pragmatic solutions to inspire a new generation of leaders.’
Midnight Poonkasetwattana, Asia-Pacific Community of MSM Organizations (APCOM)

Praise for the First Edition:

'A powerful testimony to the capacity to unite care with practical action.'
Jeremy Seabrook

'Part travelogue, part ethnography, Beyrer takes the reader on a journey through the cultural and political contours of contemporary Southeast Asia.'
China Information

'Excellent, hard-hitting and clear-sighted... A first-rate book.'
South China Morning Post


Publication Date: 15 July 2017
304 pages

Product ISBNs: Paperback 2nd Edition: 9781786991935
Hardback 2nd Edition: 9781786991942
eBook ePub 2nd Edition: 9781786991966
eBook PDF 2nd Edition: 9781786991959
eBook Kindle 2nd Edition: 9781786991973

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