HIV/AIDS Rates in Caribbean Rising Because of Expensive Treatment, Sex Tourism, Stigma
HIV/AIDS rates in the Caribbean, which currently has the second highest HIV prevalence in the world after sub-Saharan Africa, are rising because of the high cost of treatment, an increase in sex tourism and societies that "condone male promiscuity but stigmatize HIV," NPR's "All Things Considered" reports. According to the United Nations, AIDS is the leading cause of death of Caribbean men and women ages 15 to 45. Last year, 42,000 people in the Caribbean died of AIDS-related causes, and 440,000 people in the region currently are living with the disease. Robert Carr of Jamaica AIDS Support, an umbrella group of 60 AIDS-related outreach programs, said that Caribbean society "values a certain level of machismo that promotes multiple partners for men," adding that the culture "sort of sets us up for the kind of spread of the epidemic that we've been seeing." HIV/AIDS is "not something openly discussed" in the Caribbean because "the disease is seen as a death sentence, creating fear around even acknowledging it," according to NPR. Nina Ferencic, coordinator of the U.N. Office of AIDS for Latin America, said that the "reluctance is heightened" by the "reality" of living in small, island communities. The NPR segment also includes comments from Verity Rushton of the Jamaican Ministry of Health's AIDS program (Hadden, "All Things Considered," NPR, 6/2).
The full segment is available online in RealPlayer.