U.S. To Nearly Double Funding to $40M To Fight HIV/AIDS in Haiti
The United States this year plans to nearly double to $40 million funding for the fight against HIV/AIDS in Haiti, which is one of the countries targeted in the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, Reuters reports (Guyler Delva, Reuters, 2/2). PEPFAR is a five-year, $15 billion program that directs funding for HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria to 15 focus countries, including Botswana, Ethiopia, Cote d'Ivoire, Kenya, Mozambique, Namibia, Nigeria, Rwanda, South Africa, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia, Haiti, Guyana and Vietnam (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 1/31). U.S. Ambassador Randall Tobias, head of the State Department's Office of the Global AIDS Coordinator, at a press conference with Haitian Interim Prime Minister Gerard Latortue said that U.S. funding for HIV/AIDS programs in Haiti in 2004 was $22 million but that the amount will increase to about $40 million this year, according to Reuters. Under PEPFAR, about 3,000 HIV-positive Haitians are receiving antiretroviral drugs at no cost. The U.S. funding also has helped to train health care personnel, improve infrastructure, and operate prevention and care programs for AIDS orphans. "I want to assure all of you that the people of the United States will continue to be here working hard alongside those of you in Haiti to fight HIV/AIDS," Tobias said. Latortue said that Haitians should get tested for HIV, according to Reuters. "Don't be afraid to test," Latortue said, adding, "If you don't have it, you know you don't have it; if you have it, treatment is available." Approximately 6.31% of Haiti's eight million people are HIV-positive, and a U.N. report estimates that the country's HIV prevalence could rise to 10.5% by 2015 if current trends continue, according to Reuters (Reuters, 2/2).
Second PEPFAR-Funded Clinic Opens
The second PEPFAR-funded HIV/AIDS clinic in Haiti opened on Tuesday in the rural town of Jeremie, the Associated Press reports. Before the clinic opened, HIV/AIDS patients had to travel 12 hours by bus on rough roads to Port-au-Prince to receive antiretroviral treatment, according to the Associated Press. Dr. Smith Francois, director of internal medicine at the clinic, said that stigma related to HIV/AIDS persists in Haiti. Francois said that many HIV-positive Haitians "who get sick go to a Voodoo priest instead of a doctor," adding that many people "think it's something supernatural that someone did to them" (Bracken, Associated Press, 2/1).
A kaisernetwork.org video feature on HIV/AIDS in Haiti prepared by Fred de Sam Lazaro, a correspondent for the "NewsHour with Jim Lehrer," is available online, along with additional information about HIV/AIDS in Haiti.