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June 7, 2001
Contact: CDC, NCHSTP
(404) 639-8895

CDC Expands Global AIDS Program to the Caribbean and Latin America

HHS Secretary Tommy G. Thompson today announced that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will expand its Global AIDS Program to address the HIV/AIDS epidemic in the Caribbean and Latin America. Secretary Thompson made the announcement following a meeting today with Sir George Alleyne, director of the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO).

"In the Caribbean, where HIV rates are the highest in the world outside Africa, we are committed to reducing HIV transmission through prevention," said Secretary Thompson. "We also will work to improve the care and treatment of people living with HIV/AIDS and related infections."

CDC will work in partnership with the Caribbean Epidemiology Center (CAREC), assisting them with their HIV prevention efforts throughout the Caribbean. CAREC is one of eight scientific Centers within PAHO and is a leading public health institution in the region.

"The AIDS epidemic has reached alarming proportions. In the Region of the Americas, one in every 200 persons between 15 and 49 years of age is HIV-infected. In the Caribbean, one in every 50 people has the infection, and we must intensify our fight against this deadly threat to health and development," said Sir Alleyne. "Combating the epidemic in the region requires a strong focus on prevention and access to quality, humane care and treatment, while maintaining the dignity of those infected and living with HIV/AIDS."

In June 2001, CDC will initiate technical assistance to CAREC, which will help improve the health status of Caribbean countries by supporting HIV prevention programs and care and treatment programs for HIV-infected individuals. This is not the first joint partnership with CAREC. In 1996, CAREC established the Caribbean AIDS Telecommunications and Information Network with resources from CDC. The network helps to increase awareness about the impact and prevention of sexually transmitted diseases, including HIV.

CDC is committed to supporting those countries most in need in Latin America as well, where more than 50,000 people died from AIDS last year. CDC representatives will begin working directly with public health officials from Brazil, Guyana and Haiti, where more than three-quarters of a million people were living with HIV/AIDS in 1999.

Since 1999, CDC has established Global AIDS Programs in India and 14 countries in Africa. In 2001, CDC will support programs not only in the Caribbean, but also in countries in Asia and in additional nations in Africa. CDC's fiscal year 2001 appropriations for its global HIV/AIDS programs is more than $104 million. An additional $11 million funds ongoing research at CDC related to international HIV/AIDS activities.

Other HHS agencies, including the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), are contributing to the AIDS fight in the Americas.

Since the early days of the epidemic, NIH has supported research efforts in countries affected by AIDS. Beginning in 1984 with a research project in Haiti, NIH has expanded its efforts to encompass more than 50 countries in Africa, Asia, Europe and Latin America. In the Caribbean, for example, NIH recently designated Haiti and Trinidad and Tobago as HIV Vaccine Trials Network sites. NIH-sponsored studies in Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago, Panama and Costa Rica track risk factors and cofactors of HIV infection and AIDS-related malignancies. The NIH AIDS program collaborates with PAHO on studies of heterosexual HIV transmission and tuberculosis prevention. NIH funds HIV prevention research in Belize, Trinidad and Tobago, the Dominican Republic, and Haiti, including studies that are evaluating interventions for reducing mother to child transmission. In addition, NIH supports AIDS-related training and infrastructure capacity building programs in the West Indies, Haiti, Barbados, the Dominican Republic, Jamaica, and Trinidad and Tobago. In Fiscal Year 2001, NIH will spend more than $130 million on AIDS research conducted in international settings. NIH also will spend approximately $282 million on HIV vaccine research in FY 2001.

HRSA is working through the U.S./Mexico Border Health Initiative on the cross-border problems of HIV/AIDS and is targeting $13 million dollars over five years in grant funds for people with HIV disease and AIDS who live in U.S. along the 2,000 mile area of the U.S.-Mexico border. The Agency also provided support for the translation and web casting of the fourth annual Brazil-Johns Hopkins Conference on HIV/AIDS, the largest HIV/AIDS conference in Latin America.

Other federal agencies-including the U.S. Agency for International Development, the Department of Defense, the Department of Labor, and PAHO -as well as non-governmental organizations-including UNAIDS and UNICEF-also work with HHS to implement programs worldwide that help halt the spread of the HIV/AIDS pandemic.

CAREC provides laboratory reference and epidemiology services to 21 member countries, including Anguilla, Aruba, Antigua, Barbuda, Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Bermuda, British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands, Dominica, Grenada, Guyana, Jamaica, Montserrat, Netherlands Antilles, St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Suriname and the Turks and Caicos. CAREC is located in the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago and was founded in 1975.

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