XVIII International AIDS Conference


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Amplifying voices, highlighting concerns: impact of the earthquake on the HIV positive people in Haiti

J.C. Louis, A. Mishra

Panos Global AIDS Programme, Port-au-Prince, Haiti

Issues: On January 12, 2010 an earthquake of catastrophic magnitude hit Haiti's capital, Port-au-Prince. It left 200,000 people dead, 250,000 injured, one million homeless and many more displaced.
At the time there were 120, 000 people living with HIV in Haiti. Initial reports estimate that just under 70, 000 Positive People lived in the earthquake affected area, 19,000 of those were on antiretroviral treatment (ART). Limited information is available on how the Positive People are coping with this disaster. Prior to the earthquake Haiti was considered a success story in the response to HIV. But the current situation is threatening to impede all the gains.
Description: Panos Haiti has been working on HIV and AIDS on the island for the past fifteen years. It helped in facilitating the first support group of Positive People in Haiti and built capacities of Positive People in communicating their concerns. Simultaneously the organisation initiated debates on access Positive People to HIV services and helped fight stigma by training journalists to report sensitively on AIDS.
In the aftermath of the quake , Panos Haiti would intensify its current work to highlight the impact of the quake on access of Positive People to HIV services, and available relief efforts.
Lessons learned: Positive People are extremely affected by the crisis. All major health infrastructures are destroyed in the affected areas. Continued access to life saving medicines and services to thousands of people living with remains a big challenge. Over 500,000 people have left the capital to go to the provinces. Networks of People Living with HIV report that they urgently need food and water, tents, and hygiene kits.
Next steps: Panos Haiti will amplify the voices and concerns of the Positive People, in Haiti, and to policy makers in the North through innovative communication tools and the media.

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