Millions in New AIDS Funds Bring Hope to Life-and-Death Struggles in Haiti
April 7, 2003
With an estimated 300,000 of Haiti's 8.3 million people infected with HIV and thousands dying each year, doctors there say many people can be saved with the $25 million grant from the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria. The first disbursements reached nonprofit groups in Haiti in March. Over the next two years, the money is to be used to help expand prevention and treatment programs and buy antiretrovirals for thousands of patients. "I think it's going to be a huge success," said Dr. Jean William Pape, whose Gheskio clinic treated more than 21,000 AIDS patients last year.Adapted from:
Pape, a professor of New York's Cornell University, will use $1.7 million from the fund to expand testing, treatment and counseling to 25 new centers in hospitals and clinics throughout the country.
The Global Fund is also sending $2.5 million this year to help a network of hospitals and clinics in Haiti's impoverished central plateau. Dr. Paul Farmer said the money should more than double the number of patients seen regularly there, to about 8,000. His Boston-based nonprofit Partners in Health is already obtaining cheaper generic drugs, but urgent needs remain. "We lose patients every week because we don't have enough meds," said Farmer.
In other areas, even simple care is unobtainable. A $22.5 million loan approved by the Inter-American Development Bank would help reorganize Haiti's troubled health system, but it is part of $500 million in aid blocked since disputed elections in 2000. President Jean-Bertrand Artistide criticizes the United States for blocking aid to the government. Nevertheless, the United States is giving about $15 million to nonprofit groups for HIV/AIDS in Haiti over the next two years.
While Haiti accounts for most Caribbean HIV cases, doctors say prevention programs are helping. Studies suggest the percentage of sexually active adults infected -- now estimated at 4.5 percent -- has been declining.
04.04.03; Ian James