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July 7, 2009

HIV Prevention Succeeding in Haiti

About 20 years after the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention listed Haitian nationality as a primary risk factor for HIV, the country has been ahead in prevention, diagnosis and treatment, The New York Times reports.

Today, the official rate of infection is 2.2 percent, according to UNAIDS. In addition, the rate among pregnant women—the only group officially tested from 1993 to 2003—dropped from 6.2 percent to 3.1 percent, according to national health surveys and the Haitian Group for the Study of Kaposi’s Sarcoma and Opportunistic Infections (GHESKIO), widely considered the world’s oldest AIDS clinic.

Researchers believe that the numbers have dropped because private blood banks were closed and programs were tailored to address the country’s specific challenges. For example, GHESKIO distributes phone cards to patients so that they can remain in contact with their doctors.

Due to a grant from UNAIDS in 2002 and $420 million from the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, about 18,000 people in Haiti are on HIV drugs, most of which are administered by GHESKIO and Boston-based Partners in Health.

Search: prevention, Haiti, UNAIDS, Haitian Group for the Study of Kaposi’s Sarcoma and Opportunistic Infections, President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief

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