Status of HIV/AIDS:
Epidemiology and Treatment
Spirits City At Dusk Rural Landscape Village Market
The first cases of AIDS in Haiti were recognized in 1978-1979, a period that coincides with the earliest reports of AIDS in the United States. Current data are consistent with the hypothesis that AIDS originated in Africa, came to the United States and Europe, and subsequently was introduced into Haiti by either tourists or returning Haitians. Early in the course of the epidemic, it was speculated that Haiti had been a source of the spread of AIDS to the United States. Now, it appears the reverse was actually the case.

The association with Haiti has caused confusion. It is now believed that the disease was probably introduced into the Haitian population by vacationing American homosexuals for whom the island was a fashionable resort in the late 1970's. Houses of male prostitution had been previously established by Western homosexuals visiting the island. Interestingly, Haitian born patients with AIDS are the only group in the United States in whom AIDS has become proportionately less prevalent compared with others at risk. The theory was proved incorrect, but not before damage to Haitian tourism had been done. As a result there has been an increase in poverty, a yet steeper slope of inequality and vulnerability to disease, including AIDS. The label "AIDS vector" was also damaging to the million or so Haitians living elsewhere in the Americas.

The prevalence of HIV among healthy sexually active adults in Port-au-Prince is 10 percent. The rate of infection in rural areas in three times as many. The highest prevalence rates have been found in female prostitutes (53%). There has been increasing investigation into gender expectations with finding that women will often change sexual partners if they feel that they are not being adequately supported by a husband. These practices can create a link between many partners through which the disease can easily spread. During the past 4 years, there has been a progressive decrease in the percent of patients reporting bisexuality and blood transfusions, and an increase in those reporting either a spouse with antecedent AIDS, prostitution, or none of the aforementioned activities. In Haiti, more than 90% of patients with the acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) were infected with HIV by heterosexual transmission.

Characteristics of AIDS in Haiti.

Prevention & Education:

The large amount of attention on the Haitian epidemic has led to the development of many Haitian non-governmental organization. Several NGOs have been collaborating with AIDSTECH/AIDSCAP have been converting from free condom distribution to the sale of Haiti's socially marketed Pante (Panther) condom thru a private sector initiative funded by the United States Agency for International Development. The aim is to increase condom distribution in Haiti while promoting the "development of a more sustainable distribution infrastructure and offering NGOs an alternative source of funding."

Condom Marketing
Professor PANTE and adolescents

Treatment & Healing:

There has been investigation into common Haitian indigenous medicinal practices which involve the use of unsterilized needles. Education efforts are being targeted towards these healers to relate the transmission risks in traditional Haitian medicine. Accessible treatment information is primarily targeted towards the biomedical approach:

Feasibility and cohort development for HIV vaccine trials in Haiti.
American College of Physicians study on HIV in Haiti
Key for Haiti health policy
Studies of leishmaniasis in Brazil and of natural history and epidemiology of AIDS in Haiti
Impact of human immunodeficiency virus type 1 on tuberculosis in rural Haiti.
Antibodies to HIV-1 and HTLV-1 in Haiti.