Editorials and Commentary
Partnership Against HIV/AIDS
May 31, 2002
"HIV/AIDS is wreaking havoc on countries around the world, most notably in sub-Saharan Africa. ...On the United States' 'third border' in the Caribbean, HIV/AIDS, left unchecked, poses a serious threat in human, economic and social terms to the region as well as to the United States.
"For much of the Caribbean, HIV/AIDS has become the leading cause of death in the 25-44 year age group. This region is the second most affected by AIDS in the world, after sub-Saharan Africa. ... In some Caribbean countries, HIV rates are five times higher in girls than boys aged 15 to 16.
"...Around the world, wherever the AIDS epidemic has leveled- off or declined, proactive engagement by high-level leadership has helped dissolve the stigma surrounding the disease, reducing discrimination and encouraging preventative behavior. In the Caribbean, the prime ministers of Barbados and St. Kitts & Nevis have championed the need to take decisive action against HIV/AIDS.
"Secretary of State Colin Powell has charged US ambassadors in the Caribbean, who recently came together in Port-au-Prince, to coordinate strategies and heighten cooperation.... Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) Tommy Thompson led a US government team to Guyana for a daylong meeting with Caribbean health ministers last month, where he signed the Pan Caribbean Partnership to Fight AIDS.
"US funding for HIV/AIDS programs in the Caribbean... through the US Agency for International Development (USAID) and HHS -- has doubled in the last year. The [CDC's] Global AIDS Program is providing staff in Guyana, Trinidad and Haiti. ...CDC and the Caribbean Epidemiology Center are also tracking HIV/AIDS trends throughout the region.
"...Multilateral support is also forthcoming from the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, to which the United States is the largest contributor with $500 million. The fund's board last month awarded a $10.2 million grant to an HIV/AIDS program in Haiti.
"...The HIV/AIDS epidemic in the Caribbean outstrips the region's capabilities to address the problem, creating a need for financial and technical support. However, funding is not the only ingredient needed.... Equally important is strong leadership. ...Rising to the enormous challenge of defeating HIV/AIDS requires the Caribbean to be united and committed. There simply is no other option."
The author is undersecretary of state for global affairs.
05.27.02; Paula J. Dobriansky
This article was provided by U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It is a part of the publication CDC HIV/Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update. Visit the CDC's website to find out more about their activities, publications and services.