U.S.-Funded AIDS Prevention Programs Promoting Abstinence Get ‘Mixed Reviews’ in Haiti
U.S. government-funded HIV/AIDS prevention programs focusing on abstinence are getting "mixed reviews" in Haiti, where 5% of the population is HIV-positive, the AP/Bradenton Herald reports. Supporters of abstinence education say that the country can learn from Uganda, which lowered its HIV prevalence rate from 15% to 5% with its "ABC" campaign -- which stands for abstinence, be faithful, use condoms. However, unlike Uganda, which has high literacy, a stable government and a growing economy, 50% of Haitians are illiterate, the economy is shrinking and some international donors have suspended aid due to President Jean-Bertrand Aristide's controversial policies. Haiti is set to receive $130 million in international aid this year, and critics have questioned whether money spent on abstinence programs "could be better spent on helping Haitians out of their deepening misery," according to the AP/Herald (Dodds, AP/Bradenton Herald, 12/15). Haiti is one of two Caribbean nations that will receive funding under the five-year, $15 billion global AIDS initiative (HR 1298), which President Bush signed into law in May (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 10/1). The initiative earmarks about $900 million for abstinence programs in the 15 countries set to receive aid under the plan. Foreign assistance for abstinence promotion previously was not tracked, therefore the United States has no estimates on how much has gone to the abstinence campaign in Haiti, according to U.S. officials. Although condom use rates have increased, abstinence can be a "tough sell" in Haiti because many teenagers become sexually active between the ages of 12 and 13, according to the AP/Herald (AP/Bradenton Herald, 12/15).
Fort Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel Features Special Report on Haiti
The Fort Lauderdale Sun Sentinel on Sunday featured a special report on Haiti, where environmental problems have affected the economic, political and health status of the country (Collie, Fort Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel, 12/14). Erosion, caused by deforestation and poor farming, has "pushed tens of thousands of people" from the country into the cities, where "disease and disorder are spreading and spiraling out of control." An estimated 30,000 people die each year from AIDS-related illnesses in Haiti, leaving behind 200,000 orphans, many of whom risk becoming the "next generation of HIV-infected adults," the Sun-Sentinel reports. "The collapse of the countryside and the urban environment, the sheer overpopulation, has resulted in a complete breakdown of the Haitian family. In such an environment, a child who survives past the age of five is usually on his own," Jacques Rousseau, a demographer for the International Organization of Migration, said (Collie, Fort Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel, 12/14). The complete report is available online. A kaisernetwork.org video feature prepared by Fred de Sam Lazaro, a correspondent for the NewsHour with Jim Lehrer, is available online, along with additional information and resources about Haiti.