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Holistic Treatment in Haiti: Implications From a Groundbreaking Study

July 26, 2012

Holistic Treatment in Haiti: Implications From a Groundbreaking Study

In the ongoing fight against the AIDS epidemic, Haiti and the Caribbean remain one of the world's most affected locations, second only to Sub-Saharan Africa. According to statistics released tonight in an IAC session titled, "HIV in Haiti in the Time of Reconstruction, Epidemiology, Achievements, Challenges and Perspectives," there are currently 127,000 Haitians living with HIV/AIDS, and over 11,000 orphans who are also HIV positive. As Florence D. Guillaume, the Haitian Minister of Public Health simply put it, "Every day 20 Haitians are infected with HIV."

But there is hope in Haiti. This evening Dr. Eniko Akomólead researcher for PSI, a global health organization, described one of the world's most exciting research studies that is being conducted by Dr. Linda Marc (Harvard) and co-funded by Housing Works: a study on depression among men who have sex with men (MSM) in Haiti. To date, this will be the first study to examine the mental health of MSM in Haiti, where same-sex contact is highly stigmatized and is often treated violently in certain communities.

The potential impact of this study is enormous. Currently 18.1% of the MSM in Haiti are HIV-positive, which is thought to increase depression and the clinical acceleration of the disease in this population. While many HIV and AIDS services treat the body first and the mind second, this study will treat people holistically, pioneering a new wave of HIV services by seeking to understand how mental health affects one's ability to adhere to antiretroviral therapy, likelihood to engage in risky behaviors, and utilization of primary care. As Housing Works' President and Founder Charles King notes, "This will be a real game changer for HIV prevention care."

Housing Works' involvement in this project bolsters the supportive programs and services already etablished in Haiti, which are run by Edner Boucicaut, Housing Works' Haiti Country Director.

This article was provided by Housing Works. It is a part of the publication Housing Works AIDS Issues Update. Visit Housing Works' website to find out more about their activities, publications and services.

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