Efforts of Haitian government and US Mission have positive impact on HIV/AIDS situation
November 30, 2013
On this year’s World Aid’s Day there is good news from Haiti.
The number of Haitians that test positive among people screened for HIV has dramatically decreased from nearly 10 per cent a decade ago, to 3.67 per cent according to data collected by Haiti’s Ministry of Public Health and Population.
From 2004, the number of people tested for HIV/AIDS has increased from 58,433 to 839,033. The number of pregnant women tested has increased substantially dramatically from 22,221 to 236,174. In addition, 87% of HIV-positive pregnant women received lifelong antiretroviral therapy for prevention of mother-to-child transmission. This was a major improvement after a decade in which between 20% and 50% of HIV-positive pregnant women received care. The number of HIV-positive patients who enrolled for treatment in 2013 hit a record high with a 44% increase on last year. The increase in patient enrollment for treatment averaged 20% every year (except for 2010, when the earthquake struck).
The US Mission, through a number of different programs – ranging from prevention to care and treatment – makes a significant contribution to the fight against HIV/AIDS in Haiti.
The US Agency for International Development (USAID) supports prevention, which is a key component of the Haitian national response to HIV/AIDS, working through PEPFAR, the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR).
Under PEPFAR, USAID provides more than 50% of all HIV drugs in Haiti and distributes more than 35 million condoms, almost 85% of the total available in Haiti. The aim is to increase the understanding of patterns and settings of risky sexual behavior; increase risk assessment and condom use and improve condom availability.
Equally important in the fight against HIV/AIDS are the efforts of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), which focused on supporting the Government of Haiti in preventing transmission of the disease ever since it opened its Haiti office in 2002. Through support to the Nation Blood Transfusion Service, CDC supports the screening and distribution of nearly 27,000 units of life saving blood during the past year, a threefold increase over the last decade.
CDC partners also provide a major portion of the HIV/AIDS care and treatment in Haiti to those already infected, supports the expansion of programs to prevent mother-to-child transmission and improved adherence to the comprehensive package of maternal and child health services for HIV-positive mothers and exposed infants. In collaboration with MSPP and its partners, CDC has established an electronic medical record system covering 82 percent of HIV care and treatment sites and created an HIV-case notification database, capturing more than 90 percent of reported cases each year. CDC has also expanded external quality assurance practices at 204 laboratories and all HIV sites.
PEPFAR, the U.S. Government initiative to help save the lives of those suffering from HIV/AIDS around the world, is a historic commitment and the largest by any nation to combat a single disease internationally. Just ten years ago, AIDS was considered a death sentence. Today, with millions of lives saved thanks to PEPFAR, the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Malaria and Tuberculosis and countless other entities and individuals, hope has not only been renewed, it has been a driving force in accelerating a global response. PEPFAR supports the fight against global AIDS through bilateral and regional programs in over 70 countries.
Globally, new HIV infections have declined nearly 33% over the past decade, and AIDS-related mortality has decreased by 30% since its peak in 2005.
As US Secretary of State John Kerry said, “A decade ago, PEPFAR created the world’s largest most successful foreign assistance program ever. And now, a disease that at one time seemed to be unstoppable is actually in retreat.”
In Haiti, this is becoming increasingly true.
World AIDS Day, observed on December 1, is a day to pay tribute to the millions of lives lost and families affected by HIV/AIDS. It is also an opportunity to recognize the brave individuals living with HIV who carry the burden of this disease every day. It is in their honor that the U.S. remains steadfast in its commitment to achieve an AIDS-free generation.