AIDS in the Caribbean

Essay by vybzdanielleCollege, UndergraduateB+, March 2007

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The Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS) is caused by the HIV virus. Heterosexual sex is the main route of transmission in the Caribbean. More than 1.6% of the adult population is infected, and HIV prevalence in the Caribbean is second only to Sub-Saharan Africa. In 2005 more than 27,000 died of AIDS. Haiti has the highest HIV prevalence in the western hemisphere. Alarmingly, this epidemic is fueled by poverty, perilous cultural practices, intimidating legislation, and a high degree of stigma. It has also exacerbated a various of social, economic and development problems. More than half of HIV victims are women, and AIDS is a major cause of death in the region.

The barriers of poverty and insufficient resources continue to hinder HIV prevention in the Caribbean. Due to poor public infrastructure, limited resources and fragile economies, have stemmed efforts to respond to the crisis. In the Dominican Republic, the shanty towns are disproportionately affected by HIV, however prevention tools such as condoms are generally unavailable.

Some territories face a paucity of health workers to treat AIDS patients. Many Caribbean islands are heavily dependent on tourism. This has stimulated reluctance to elucidate the epidemic, among several officials. They fear that this might discourage visitors, such as sex tourists. Many children have been orphaned by the pandemic, and the depleted labour force threatens to destroy poverty.

Traditional and cultural norms prevent Caribbean people from talking openly about HIV and AIDS. Consequently, misinformation and prejudice thrive. Rampant homophobia throughout the region leads to denial and under-reporting. Invariably, the epidemic is heavily stigmatised. This limits public demand and political initiatives. Some groups which attempt to provide AIDS services to homosexuals encounter harassment from the public and the police. In some Caribbean territories, homosexuality is outlawed, and condom provision is limited to groups such as...