Haiti finds optimism in the fight against AIDS
By Jennifer Browning
Haiti might be seeing a glimmer of hope in the fight against HIV/AIDS according to Cesar Chelala’s article in the Miami Herald today.
Haiti is one of the countries hardest hit by the AIDS epidemic, but recent statistics show that deaths due to AIDS have decreased in the small Caribbean country over the last few years.
Chelala reports that the percentage of pregnant women who tested HIV positive have declined by half over the last 10 years. But where the challenge remains is in sex education.Only 15 percent of women and 28 percent of men between the ages of 15 and 24 know how to prevent HIV infection, and boys and girls are becoming sexually active at an early age, some as early as 10. In addition, infection rates have been falling more slowly in rural areas than in urban areas.
In 2001 the U.N. reported that 6.1 percent of the adult population was HIV positive, and AIDS was the top cause of death among sexually active youth and adults. But by late 2005, as a result of education and control efforts, the percentage of infected persons had declined to 3.8 percent.
Chelala points to the work of Dr. Jean Pape and Dr. Paul Farmer as two major contributors in the successful decline of the disease in Haiti. Through their leadership and planning in conjunction with their programs which advocate prevention and care, Haiti has hope in the fight against HIV/AIDS.
Project Medishare is another organization who joins Pape and Farmer in the fight. This year Project Medishare was awarded a $1.25 million grant to launch a new HIV prevention and care program in rural Haiti.
Click here to read Cesar Chelala’s article “A ray of hope in the fight against AIDS.”