Goosby to Ask Haiti to Give Haitians With AIDS a Seat at the Table
At a meeting on Tuesday, U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator Dr. Eric Goosby said that he would speak to the Haitian government about involving Haitians living with HIV/AIDS in the rebuilding of that country's devastated AIDS services network.
"One thing Dr. Goosby committed to is that he said he would talk to the Haitian government and get people living with HIV/AIDS involved with the planning process," said Housing Works Vice President of National Advocacy and Organizing Christine Campbell, who attended the joint meeting of USAID, PEPFAR, and Haitian advocates from the grassroots coalition Plateforme Haitienne des Association PVVIH (PHAP+).
Goosby's pledge was an important step. Most of the HIV health care centers in Port-au-Prince and other major cities were destroyed in the quake. The Haitian delegation explained that pressure from the U.S. was essential to involving them in the rebuilding process and moving forward. "When the U.S. government is in the room, Haiti moves," Esther Boucicault, President of PHAP+ and FEBS, told the representatives at the meeting.
Calling on Congress
Earlier on Tuesday members of PHAP+ spoke at a Congressional briefing, "Report from the Frontlines: Living with HIV/AIDS in Haiti Post-Earthquake," about the situation on the ground. They urged Congress to approve an additional $100 million in President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) funding to address HIV/AIDS in Haiti. The briefing was sponsored by Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, PHAP+, Housing Works, Health GAP and UNAIDS.
"We can't take PEPFAR funding from other countries to deal with this catastrophe," saidl, who moderated the briefing. "The funding needs to be in addition to PEPFAR funding."
Keith D. Cylar Award winners Liony Accelus, President of REHPIHIV; Esther Boucicault, President of PHAP+ and FEBS; and Edner Boucicaut, Chief Communications Officer of CECOSIDA all spoke to about 40 briefed Congressional staffers and advocates.
Other speakers included Jordan Baugh, a representative from Gillibrand's office; Zanmi Lasante and Dr. Wesler Lambert from Partners in Health, and John Hassell, Washington Director of the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS, UNAIDS.
Edner Boucicaut spoke about building a "new Haiti" that would address the socioeconomic problems that lead to the AIDS crisis in Haiti.
The Obama administration has proposed $1.641 billion for Haiti's rebuilding effort, but that none of that funding is earmarked for PEPFAR.
"Haiti had been an example of smart, coordinated services into which HIV programs had been integrated -- as imagined in the President's Global Health Initiative -- with key services like maternal and child health. We recommend that the Supplemental include an additional $100 million to address the needs of people living with HIV/AIDS in Haiti through bilateral and multilateral mechanisms such as UNAID," PHAP+ said in a statement.
PHAP+ proposes that additional PEPFAR funding be used for:
Rebuilding 20 destroyed clinics and the laboratory infrastructure needed to support these clinics.
Physical reconstruction of AIDS service organization non-clinic facilities destroyed in the earthquake.
Workforce development (training and hiring of doctors, nurses, social workers and other personnel, including contributions to the recruitment and employment of community health workers)
The creation of mental health services for Haitians living with HIV/AIDS, who are suffering from both the shock of the earthquake and the persistent stigma against and marginalization of people living with HIV/AIDS.
Urgent emergency HIV prevention programs for displaced persons including condom distribution and education programs as well as rebuilding of national HIV prevention programming.
Funding for second and third line AIDS drugs, which were largely unavailable before the earthquake and will be increasingly needed post-earthquake where treatment interruptions of first-line drugs necessitate transition of many new regimens that are costlier.
The Haitian delegation met with Health and Human Services Secretary Christopher Bates for an informational meeting (HHS doesn't directly oversee Haiti).
For more information about people with HIV/AIDS in Haiti, and how you can help go to housingworks.org/haiti.