Two Caribbean Nations to Receive World Bank Loans to Fight HIV/AIDS
The Dominican Republic and Barbados will be the first two countries to receive loans from the World Bank under it's new initiative to combat HIV/AIDS in the Caribbean, Dow Jones International News reports. The World Bank last Thursday announced that it had established a $155 million fund that would fight HIV/AIDS in the region by financing prevention initiatives aimed at "high-risk groups"; efforts to bring affordable health care to HIV-positive individuals; and education efforts aimed at the general public. The Dominican Republic is slated to receive $25 million from the fund, while Barbados will receive $15.5 million. To receive the long term, low-interest loans, countries must "commit to developing programs with the participation of community and religious groups, nongovernmental organizations, health professionals and the private sector" (Dow Jones International News, 6/29). Of the approximately six million people living in the Caribbean, about 500,000 have HIV/AIDS, which has become a "major cause of death" for people ages 15 to 44 in some Caribbean countries. Edwin Carrington, secretary general of the Caribbean Community, described HIV/AIDS as "one of the most pressing issues of concern in the Caribbean and the wider world." A new initiative called the Caribbean Regional Strategic Plan of Action for HIV/AIDS has established some specific goals for halting the spread of the epidemic, including halving the rate of vertical transmission of HIV by 2003; cutting by 25% the number of HIV-positive individuals ages 15 to 24 before 2005; and ensuring that 90% of young people ages 15 to 24 have access to HIV/AIDS prevention and education materials by 2005 (Epstein, Perspectives in Health, 2001).
Pan American Initiative
The Pan American Health Organization also has voiced its support for stemming the spread of HIV/AIDS in the Caribbean and elsewhere in the Western hemisphere by calling for "regional alliances against HIV/AIDS at the highest economic and political levels." K. Burke Dillon, executive vice president of the Inter-American Development Bank, said that PAHO is working with the bank to create regional alliances and partnerships to "mobilize more resources" to fight HIV/AIDS and prompt greater discussion of the issue. Such alliances include the Caribbean initiative against AIDS, UNAIDS groups in individual countries, AIDS discussions pertaining to the Mexico-U.S. border, a Horizontal Technical Cooperation Group and promotion of collaboration among countries to share "expertise" on the disease. In addition, the countries would work with the IDB, the Organization of American States and the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean. PAHO is supporting stronger surveillance systems to monitor the spread of the epidemic and the development of technical support and capacity building for diagnosis, treatment and care facilities (PAHO release, 6/28).