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International News

Caribbean Leaders Discuss Ways to Stop Spread of HIV/AIDS, Leading Cause of Death Among Young People

July 7, 2003

Caribbean health officials are conducting a study to determine the economic impact of HIV/AIDS in the region, which has the world's highest infection rate after sub-Saharan Africa, St. Kitts and Nevis Prime Minister Denzil Douglas said on Saturday, the final day of a Caribbean summit. AIDS is the leading cause of death in several Caribbean countries, including Haiti and the Bahamas, UNAIDS has said, and it is the single greatest cause of death for Caribbean people ages 15-44.

About 500,000 people in the Caribbean have the disease, threatening to cripple the labor force as it prepares for free-trade and increased competition, Douglas said. The number does not include Cuba, where infection rates are low. "HIV/AIDS continues to be the main threat to the development of the region," said Douglas, who oversees health matters in the 15-member Caribbean community.

Officials plan to make another push for cheaper AIDS drugs to boost access to treatment, Douglas said. He said leaders were considering an offer from Cuban President Fidel Castro to provide doctors and nurses to AIDS-stricken countries lacking adequate health care.

Douglas said governments would seek aid from the United Nations and other groups to "widen the net so that all Caribbean countries" can get help, referring to President Bush's $15 billion program to combat AIDS in Africa, and in the Caribbean countries of Haiti and Guyana. He said governments would set up a special HIV/AIDS commission in Georgetown, Guyana, with help from a $500,000 grant from the World Health Organization.

Back to other CDC news for July 7, 2003

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Adapted from:
Associated Press
07.05.03; Stevenson Jacobs

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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.
See Also
More on HIV/AIDS in the Caribbean