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.