Top book award for Nattrass

14 July 2008 | Story by Newsroom

Prof Nicoli Nattrass and Dr Bill Venter
Write on top: Prof Nicoli Nattrass receives the Bill Venter/Altron Literary Award from Dr Bill Venter, Altron Group chairperson and eponymous founder of the award

Professor Nicoli Nattrass of UCT's School of Economics has won one of the country's top academic book prizes, the Bill Venter/Altron Literary Award, matching her husband, Professor Jeremy Seekings, a previous recipient.

Nattrass received the R75 000 in prize money for her internationally-acclaimed book, The Moral Economy of Aids in South Africa, released in 2003. Seekings won the award in 2004 for his History of the United Democratic Front in South Africa.

Moral Economy was Nattrass' first book on AIDS - it was followed by Mortal Combat: AIDS Denialism and the Struggle for Antiretroviral Treatment in South Africa in 2007 - compiled during the peak of AIDS denialism. It examined the government arguments that the use of antiretrovirals was unaffordable.

Wearing her economist's hat, Nattrass showed that, instead, the state could have saved money if it had introduced a national mother-to-child transmission prevention programme. She argued that the cost of treating sick children with AIDS would be greater than preventing them from getting AIDS.

Nattrass said it was "really great" to win the prize and good to follow in the footsteps of her husband, her "harshest critic and strongest supporter", who had tested her arguments during walks together on Table Mountain.

"This is yet another testament to the sterling work done by UCT faculty," says Vice-Chancellor, Dr Max Price. "What's particularly pleasing to me is that UCT scholars are doing and are being recognised for work on some very critical issues."

Moral Economy was chosen by an independent panel chaired by Land Claims Court Judge Fikile Bam from a line-up of 25 titles submitted by universities from across South Africa.

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