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HOME: POPULATION ISSUES: PREVENTING HIV INFECTION: Global Youth Partners
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Haiti

Youth Partner

Name: Myrlande Leroy
Age: 24
Nationality: Haitian
Affiliated Organization:

Foundation for Reproductive Health and Family Education (FOSREF)

Myrlande Leroy currently works as a youth project assistant to FOSREF. FOSREF is a Haitian non-governmental organization whose mission is to promote Reproductive Health Education for Haitians and their families, particularly young people.

Myrlande has been participating in the preparation activities of the National Policy of Childhood for Haiti. She is also a member of the RTK TEAM/ “Right to know project” initiated by UNICEF in 14 countries, including Haiti. The purpose of this project is to seek a more effective means of communication addressing vulnerable groups, particularly young people, in order to reduce the rate of HIV infections.

 

UNFPA in Haiti

With a population of over 8 million people, the Government of Haiti has long recognized the need to include population issues in its efforts to reduce poverty and create conditions more suitable for fostering sustainable socio-economic development. To further these ends it reinstated the Population Secretariat in 1997 and adopted a National Population Policy in 2000. Several key population issues have been identified as strategic priorities and are now the focus of multisectoral interventions. These priorities include: reducing maternal mortality; preventing HIV; meeting the reproductive health needs of adolescents; and expanding and improving the current weak population and development data/socio-demographic indicator base.

Haiti is one of two “Category A” countries in the Latin American and Caribbean region under the UNFPA resource allocation criteria, and the only least developed country (LDC). With a gross national product (GNP) of $460 per person (1999), Haiti remains the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere. Its economic and social indicators are far lower than the average for Latin America and the Caribbean. Poverty is widespread: 70 per cent of the population lives below the poverty line, with the highest poverty levels occurring in the North.

HIV/AIDS is a critical public health problem requiring a national strategy and attention at the highest level. Haiti has the highest HIV prevalence in the Latin America and Caribbean region. As of 1996, the percentage of the sexually active population that was infected with HIV was estimated at 3 to 5 per cent in rural areas and 7 to 10 per cent in urban areas. Preliminary projections show the number of HIV-positive individuals surpassing 380,760 by the end of 2001, with the annual number of deaths climbing as high as 38,000. Six thousand of those dying will be children. HIV transmission is predominantly heterosexual in Haiti, and approximately equal numbers of males and females are infected.

UNFPA recognizes the importance of reproductive health and HIV/AIDS programs to be carried out in this country; and there have been many efforts through different projects and initiatives that have been successfully implemented in Haiti. In Port-Au-Prince, teenagers learn about AIDS, condoms, family planning and the dangers of drugs and alcohol at a local youth club supported by UNFPA. The program has trained youth facilitators at the club to talk with teenagers in schools and poor neighborhoods about condoms, family planning and the dangers of HIV and unsafe abortion. Young people living with and affected by HIV and AIDS can be especially effective at peer education and motivating young people to protect themselves against infection. The Association for National Solidarity, an organization of people living with and affected by HIV/AIDS, held meetings for young people. They reacted positively to the HIV-positive leader of the group who urged them not to have early intercourse and to remain faithful to their partners.

Sources: UNFPA Country Programme of Assistance to the Government of Haiti
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