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Award of Excellence
Chris Hamilton Freelance
"AIDS in the Caribbean: A growing epidemic in the backyard of the United States"

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Wilbert Jean-Baptiste, 43, waits for his medicine to be given to him at the Missionaries of Charity hospital in Cite Soleil, a slum on the outskirts of Port-au-Prince, Haiti. In most countries of the Caribbean, AIDS is treated as a death sentence. Many physicians treat whatever symptoms they can and send patients home with antibiotics to treat opportunistic infections.

They live in countries of beauty and paradise, countries where tourists come from all over the world to vacation. Yet their world is one where they are shunned from society, abandoned by their families and friends and have no cure for their sickness only a death sentence, unless the AIDS drugs can be easily provided to them. The Caribbean is at a point today where Africa was ten years ago. If help does not come, the epidemic will devastate this region. UNAIDS, the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS, says it's the beginning of a catastrophe. AIDS is spreading in the Caribbean so fast that the region is second only to sub-Saharan Africa in the percentage of a population infected with the virus. Like in Africa, the disease is spreading primarily through heterosexual sex, meaning everyone is at risk. AIDS is now the major cause of death among young men between the ages of 15-44 in the Caribbean, and is fastly becoming the leading cause of death among women in the same age group.



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