U.S. Cash Pledge Reflects Growing Impact of Caribbean AIDS Crisis
June 19, 2003
Approximately 30,000 people in Haiti die of AIDS each year -- about twice the number of AIDS deaths in the United States, a nation 30 times as populous as Haiti. In economically depressed areas of the capital Port-au-Prince, an estimated one in eight residents are infected.Adapted from:
But Haiti, the poorest nation in the Americas, is getting help, along with 12 other African and Caribbean nations, in the form of a five-year, $15 billion allotment promised by the White House. According to the UN, the Caribbean, with 2.4 percent of its population affected, has the world's second-highest rate of infection, after sub-Saharan Africa. Long considered a public health issue, AIDS is now considered an economic threat.
U.S. Secretary for Health and Human Services Tommy Thompson has been working with the region's health ministers to help Caribbean governments, research institutes and laboratories. Last week, Thompson attended a World Bank panel on AIDS along with Denzil Douglas, prime minister of St. Kitts-Nevis, who oversees health issues in the Caribbean community.
Some Caribbean nations are also set to benefit from a recent agreement with six pharmaceutical groups that will reduce the price of AIDS medication by up to 90 percent. Before the agreement, a year's supply of antiretroviral medicines cost patients roughly eight times Jamaica's average annual individual income, and 80 times Haiti's, according to public health administrators.
Trinidad's government recently predicted that at its current rate of infection, the gas-rich country's gross domestic product will drop by 4.5 percent by 2005 and its savings by 10.3 percent.
Said one Dominican official, "The impact of the epidemic on the region was not recognized by some governments, and was not admitted by others. The U.S. program will help the region, which is now in a hurry to arrest and then reduce the rate of infection."
Financial Times (London)
06.17.03; Canute James
Caribbean Leaders Discuss Ways to Stop Spread of HIV/AIDS, Leading Cause of Death Among Young People
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.