Thursday, July 22, 2010

HIV/AIDS in the Caribbean: Haiti (Pt 2)

EDITOR'S NOTE: The following blog is the second of a four-part series on HIV/AIDS and the Caribbean. Look for Part 3 of 4 in August 2010.

On January 12, 2010 an earthquake measuring 7.0 on the Richter scale leveled much of Haiti. Among the many building collapsed, lives lost and services interrupted, were those used in the fight against HIV & AIDS. The buildings of the Ministry of Public Health and Population, and countless hospitals and community organizations that worked with the HIV infected population were partially or completely destroyed.

Outreach and education activities such as condom distribution, HIV/AIDS education, testing and distribution of the life saving antiretroviral drugs have been interrupted. And as the country moves to re-establish basic needs and services to all affected by the earthquake, it is important not to forget the importance of re-establishing those services as well.

If HIV/AIDS services and education are not given priority in the rebuilding of Haiti, the current living conditions of many Haitians, may serve to exacerbate the spread of the virus. Many Haitians are living in crowded tent cities with little to no privacy or security. These cities are quickly becoming the sites of an increasing number of rapes, sexual assaults and transactional sex acts.⑤

Kofaviv, a local grass-roots organization that gives aid to rape victims in the capital of Port-au-Prince, has counseled triple the amount of rape victims since the earthquake than they have in the same amount of time last year.⑥

But despite these obstacles, Haiti and her partners in the fight against HIV/AIDS are committed to rebuilding the country’s infrastructure so as to continue servicing and educating the population. Both in the short-term with stop gap measures designed to get the much needed antiretroviral drugs to those infected with HIV or condoms distributed among the displaced. To long term goals such as rebuilding the health systems and the national network of people living with HIV.⑦

This tiny island nation has, for many years, suffered through political and economic upheaval as well as numerous natural disasters. But despite the magnitude of destruction the recent earthquake has dealt the Haitian people, it is still possible for the country to rise from the rubble and rebuild the network of individuals and organizations that helped to educated, treat and prevent HIV/AIDS infections. With a renewed focus, and help from international partners, Haiti can once again serve, service and arm their people for the continued fight against the virus.

For more information please visit:

Partners in Health…
The Haitian Centers Council…

Alysia Christiani

5 UNAIDS 2010 Helping Haiti Rebuild Its AIDS Response
6 Sexual Assaults Add to Miseries of Haiti’s Ruins, NY Times June 2010
7 UNAIDS 2010 Helping Haiti Rebuild Its AIDS Response

No comments:

Post a Comment