U.S. Ambassadors to Caribbean Nations Defend Global AIDS Initiative’s Exclusion of Most Countries in Region
U.S. ambassadors to Caribbean nations this week at a two-day conference in Port-of-Spain, Trinidad, defended the United States' commitment to fighting AIDS in the region, saying on Tuesday that there are no plans to expand the global AIDS initiative, which excludes most countries in the region, the AP/Miami Herald reports. The Caribbean has the world's second highest HIV prevalence rate at 2.4%, second only to sub-Saharan Africa, where the prevalence rate is 8.8%, according to the AP/Herald. The global AIDS initiative (HR 1298), which President Bush in May signed into law, authorizes $15 billion over five years to fight AIDS in 12 African countries and Haiti and Guyana, two of the nations in the Caribbean region hit hardest by HIV/AIDS. However, some of the nations said that targeting the two countries would do little good because of frequent travel among the island nations. The ambassadors said that more money may come later and mentioned that several other U.S.-sponsored programs are already in place to fight HIV/AIDS in the region, including U.S. contributions to the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, programs operated through USAID and a $500 million program to curb mother-to-child HIV transmission (Smith, AP/Miami Herald, 10/1). According to a State Department release, U.S. resources for fighting HIV/AIDS in the region total more than $33 million and are increasing due to the global AIDS initiative (State Department release, 9/30). "There is hope that the lessons learned and the best practices from the experience of [the] 14 countries [in the initiative] will be expanded," Dr. Michael Johnson, a representative of the CDC in the Caribbean, said. The ambassadors said they would recommend new initiatives in the region, including programs to improve HIV testing and education programs (AP/Miami Herald, 10/1).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.