02 December 2002
New money will boost Haiti's response to HIV/AIDS, following the signing of the first grant agreement between the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB and Malaria and a Caribbean or Latin American country.
The $24.7 million grant will provide additional resources to scale up a number of effective treatment and prevention programs in Haiti. By year's end, the money from the grant will be used to provide antiretroviral therapy to more than 1,200 people living with HIV through a pioneering approach using community members to promote adherence to treatment. It will also couple behavioral change communication strategies with the social marketing of over 15 million condoms throughout the country and a massive expansion of prevention services targeting youth, reaching more than 400,000 by year's end.
In a collaboration without precedent in strife-torn Haiti, the program will be overseen by a partnership that brings together government, people living with HIV/AIDS, civil society, the private sector, multilateral organizations, and bilateral donors. Accountability and rapid disbursements of funds to community-based organizations will be ensured by a private sector foundation and by the United Nations Development Programme, which will combine to manage the project.
"Haiti's long and difficult relationship with AIDS is today made worse by deteriorating health and social care structures, a situation precipitated by the nation's 2-year economic crisis," said Mildred Aristide, the First Lady and chairperson of Haiti's Country Coordinating Mechanism. "We believe that the Global Fund Project will help overcome many barriers to just and adequate treatment for persons living with HIV, offer testing to a greater segment of the population, promote prevention, and ultimately contribute to reversing current social conditions in Haiti that facilitate the spread of AIDS."
Haiti faces the worst AIDS epidemic outside of Africa. Last year, 30,000 Haitians died from AIDS; twice the number who succumbed to the disease in the United States. An estimated 250,000 people are living with HIV/AIDS; half of whom are women.
The grant marks a comprehensive approach to controlling HIV/AIDS that is being encouraged by the Global Fund, combining both prevention and treatment strategies and utilizing a wide range of public and private health care agencies to provide these services.
"Haiti's program embodies the spirit of partnership that the Global Fund seeks to create, bringing together all sectors of society to ensure a more rapid and effective response to HIV/AIDS. It is also innovative for its insistence on the inseparability of prevention and treatment approaches to addressing HIV/AIDS, "said Richard Feachem, executive director of the Global Fund. "These agencies have proposed to build on their current successes in addressing the epidemic in Haiti. This stands as an example to other countries as they prepare future proposals to the Global Fund."
Organizations implementing the project range from international agencies such as CARE International, Population Services International, and the Red Cross, to organizations affiliated with university including Partners in Health/Zanmi Lasante and Centre GHESKIO, to local community based organizations such as FOSREF and Konesans Fanmi.
For prevention activities, Haiti will use the mass media, peer groups and health professionals to deliver focused behavior change messages to youth. By the end of the first year, Haiti will provide more than 15 million condoms to youth, female sex workers and men having sex with men. Messages on behavior change will be supplemented with voluntary counseling and testing (VCT) services.
Antiretroviral therapy to prevent mother-to-child transmission of HIV will be greatly scaled-up and will reach half of all HIV-positive women in target areas by the end of the first year. This will ensure newborns remain HIV-negative and will also contribute indirectly to prevention by providing an incentive for women to access VCT services. Access to antiretroviral therapy will also be extended dramatically, including through a pioneering approach in which community members are trained to provide assistance to those taking the medicines, resulting in improved adherence to treatment.
In addition, community-based interventions will be developed, concentrating on awareness building among community leaders, home visits to families living with HIV/AIDS, foster care for orphans, micro-credit opportunities for foster parents, and distribution of food and monthly hygiene and care packets for people living with HIV/AIDS.