24 April 2003
Haiti – “We said we want to have a standard of care for our HIV patients… that might be the same as you’d see in Boston… In the six years that we’ve tried to launch it we’ve never really been able to do it. The great limiting factor has always been money. It’s always been medications,” says Dr Paul Farmer, founder of Zanmi Lasante, or Partners in Health (PIH), in a new Kaisernetwork.org video.
“And now… with the Global Fund money,” continues Dr Farmer, “our great limiting factor will be we won’t have enough time, we won’t have enough staff… but it won’t be money for the first time.”
As co-recipients of the Global Fund grant, Partners In Health features alongside Dr Jean William Pape’s Gheskio Center in this first in Kaisernetwork’s series of spotlights on local efforts around the world to combat the HIV/AIDS epidemic.
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.
But the $24.7 million grant is providing additional resources to scale up a number of effective treatment and prevention programs in Haiti - PIH and the Gheskio Center have become world-renowned public health facilities which have developed innovative, low-cost approaches to prevention and care.
By the end of 2003, the money from the Global Fund 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.
Now the Gheskio Center and PIH are both using Global Fund support to offer antiretroviral therapy. Partners in Health are currently providing treatments to 490 people, with another 126 receiving medications at the Gheskio Center.
As Dr William Pape says in Kaisernetwrok.org’s video, “We used to say that only optimist people stayed in Haiti. You are talking to an optimist person…”