Amid Unrest, Haiti Gains in Fight on AIDS
August 25, 2006
Since 2003, when more than $100 million in foreign money for HIV/AIDS began pouring into poverty-stricken Haiti, the number of people receiving antiretroviral treatment has increased from a few hundred to nearly 8,000. HIV testing and care for infected patients who do not yet need drugs also has risen.
"The prospects for controlling the AIDS epidemic in Haiti look very good," Dr. Jean William Pape told the 16th International AIDS Conference in Toronto.
So dramatic is the progress some people who learn they are not HIV-positive reportedly become distraught, since they know AIDS patients receive free medicine, treatment, and sometimes food.
Doctors say the funding has begun to address acute inequities that emerged in the late 1990s, a time when expensive new drug cocktails transformed HIV/AIDS into a manageable disease in rich nations, while patients in poor countries continued to die because they could not afford them.
Although access to AIDS drugs has increased, more chronic inequities remain. Life expectancy in Haiti is 53 years for men, 56 for women. A recent study found one in eight children will die before reaching age five -- and only 20 percent of those children have HIV.
"There are 97 percent of people with other diseases and other issues," said Dr. Georges Dubuche of Management Sciences for Health, a nonprofit that runs several Haitian health care projects. "We are putting prevention of mother-to-child [HIV] transmission into maternity wards that are not proper. Many things are not there: drugs, IVs. There is no operating room. Most of them can't do blood transfusions," he said.
08.14.2006; Jacob Goldstein
This article was provided by CDC National Prevention Information Network. It is a part of the publication CDC HIV/Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update.