The earthquake in Haiti has left hundreds of thousands of people struggling to access housing, water and food. The vulnerability of people living with HIV has increased dramatically because on top of these daily struggles, their support systems have broken down, HIV and health centres have been damaged or destroyed, and transport to get to health facilities has been badly affected. This means interruptions to medicines and antiretroviral treatment with severe potential health consequences.
The earthquake has also increased people’s vulnerability to HIV as displacement forces them to live in overcrowded shelters and look for any way to survive, including transactional sex. With the usual social networks of family, friends, and co-workers broken, coping becomes much more difficult making it vital to identify and support those who are most at risk
The Alliance’s partner in Haiti, a national NGO called Promoteurs Objectif Zerosida (POZ), was badly affected by the earthquake. All three of their centres in Port-au-Prince were destroyed, and staff and a number of gay men attending support groups were killed. Supporting POZ to re-establish its services for thousands of people living with HIV and their immediate families in Port au Prince is the immediate priority for the Alliance in Haiti.
Following discussions with the Big Lottery Fund, which currently funds the Alliance’s work with POZ, we are discussing how best to reallocate the project's funds to support POZ in getting back on its feet to redeliver services. The Alliance is also in discussions with the British Red Cross about accessing funds from the wider disaster appeal to ensure people living with HIV are not forgotten. If successful this would help re-build POZ’s service infrastructure, buy replacement equipment, and re-establish HIV prevention, care and outreach services to ensure people living with HIV have access to medical treatment and condoms.
Haiti has the highest HIV prevalence rate in Latin America and the Caribbean, with an adult HIV prevalence of 2.2%. Out of a total population of 9 million, approximately 120,000 adults and 6,800 children are living with HIV. In 2007, 7,500 people died from AIDS-related diseases. The country’s HIV epidemic has been worsened by extreme poverty, low levels of education, poor quality and availability of health and social services, and chronic political instability. HIV-related stigma and discrimination has also had a devastating effect.
Find out more about our work with POZ.