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Haiti sees drop in HIV/AIDS infection rate

July 7, 2009

By Jennifer Browning

For a country that was unscientifically stigmatized in the early 80’s as a breeding ground for the AIDS virus, Haiti is coming out on top regarding HIV infection rates. According to UNAIDS, infection rates in Haiti dropped from 6.2 percent to 3.1 percent among expectant mothers in the last 15 years. Today researchers are testing all adults, putting Haiti’s official rate at 2.2 percent.

Two organizations receiving much of the credit are Boston’s Partners in Health and Port-au-Prince’s GHESKIO, widely considered to be the world’s oldest AIDS clinic. Haiti’s success in the fight against AIDS has been attributed to education, coordinated use of AIDS drugs as well as behavioral changes including increased condom.

In December, Project Medishare, who is partnered with The Global Institute at the University of Miami, received a $1.25 million grant through the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR).

The award, which focuses on HIV/AIDS prevention activities, is part of a $4.8 million grant to Cross International, a South Florida-based interdenominational Christian humanitarian agency. The grant’s goal is to encourage faith-based and local organizations to partner with the U.S. government’s global AIDS initiative. Cross International is working with Project Medishare and four mission partners to begin a comprehensive HIV/AIDS awareness and care program targeting teens, AIDS orphans and vulnerable children. The three-year project will reach an estimated 5,000 orphans and vulnerable children, providing them with care and medical services. Project Medishare will focus its work on one of Haiti’s poorest regions, the central plateau.

Read Jonathan Katz’s article regarding Haiti’s plummeting HIV/AIDS infection rate here.

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