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#4625: AIDS and Haiti (fwd)

From: Max Blanchet <MaxBlanchet@worldnet.att.net>
>From the:

Report on the Global HIV/AIDS Epidemic

at: www.UNAIDS.org/epidemic_update/report/Epi_report.htm

HIV in the Caribbean: small islands, large epidemic

"Haiti, where the spread of HIV may well have been fuelled
by decades of poor governance and conflict, is the
worst-afflicted nation in the region. In some areas, 13% of
anonymously tested pregnant women were found to be
HIV-positive in 1996. Overall, about 8% of adults in urban
areas and 4% in rural areas are infected *). HIV transmission
is overwhelmingly heterosexual and both infection and death
are concentrated in young adults. It is estimated that 75,000
Haitian children had lost their mothers to AIDS by the end
of 1999."

On AIDS impact on population ...

"In developing countries, population structure is generally
described as a pyramid, reflecting the demographer's
traditional depiction of populations according to age groups,
with men on one side of a central axis and women on the
other. The shape of the pyramid is determined by both birth
and death rates. When both are high, the pyramid has a wide
base and tapers off steadily with increasing age.

As health improves and fertility falls, ...  the pyramid
becomes more of a column. Now, AIDS has begun to introduce
a completely new shape, the "population chimney."

"This is projected to happen in Bostwana. There, in 20 years,
there will be more adults in the 60s and 70s than there will
be in their 40s and 50s ... There is one certainty: a small
number of young adults in the group that has traditionally
provided care for both children and the old... "
*) This translates into an overall seroprevalence rate of
over 5% among all adults (about 60% of the population, 15
and above) or 3% of the total population of 8,000,000.
My comments:

-- We are talking about at least 240,000 people who are
seropositive. I have seen figures to the effect that about
100 people (mostly young people)  die of AIDS every day
in Haiti.

-- In the US, the yearly cost of "treatment" per capita using
the so-called cocktail of antiretroviral drugs is $10,000-15,000.
This is simply way beyond the means of the average Haitian
who has a per capita income of $400.00 per year. Even if the
cost of treatment could be reduced to $200.00 per capita per
year using drugs produced by circumventing patent laws, we
are still talking about 50% of average income.

Assuming the state takes over this burden, we are taking about
a yearly cost of $48,000,000. This is probaby larger than the
Haitian State's total health budget.

-- All of this to say that the country needs to develop and
implement novel approaches to deal with the AIDS pandemic.
Among them, a massive campaign to educate and sensitise the
population -- especially the young  -- about the nature of the
disease, how it is transmitted, how its spread can be checked
and about the need to show compassion for those already
infected by HIV or afflicted by AIDS itself.

-- Perhaps our political class should observe a sort of AIDS
Truce (La Trève du SIDA) and engage their considerable
energies to the campaign against AIDS, in partnership with
the religious establisment (Catholic, Protestant, Vodouist,
Moslem, Bahai, elatriye) and cultural leaders  -- from
Boukman to Beethova to Emelyne to ... Sweet Mickey -- to
try and check this plague. In this we should emulate Senegal,
Thailand and Uganda, countries in which the political, medical,
religious and cultural establishments have joigned forces to
check and indeed reverse the spread of the disease.

Short of this, the pandemic will only grind to a halt once it has
devoured our young ... another way to say that "le combat
cessera faute de combattants."

Angle ekri, angle konprann ...