The Caribbean AIDS Epidemic

The Caribbean AIDS Epidemic

The Caribbean AIDS Epidemic

The Caribbean AIDS Epidemic


The Caribbean AIDS Epidemic assesses the impact of the epidemic on the region, and does it in a manner that serves to counter the overtones of sensationalism that characterize much of the reporting on the disease to date, Its topics are wide-ranging - from an overview of the current situation in the Caribbean to commentary on regional policy development and formulation, from a discussion of discourses on AIDS through the region's music to a review of legal and ethical issues. It includes chapters on public health aspects such as the teaching of AIDS prevention and the treatment and care of those who contract the disease. The book will inform public health workers, medical practitioners, policy makers and the general public about HIV/AIDS in the Caribbean.


It is a pleasure for me to write this foreword to what is an impressive collection of material on HIV/AIDS in the Caribbean. After reading these papers that approach the topic from so many angles, no one can have any doubt about the magnitude of the problem that is still unfolding. My concern for such a wide and balanced view on HIV/AIDS is both personal and institutional.

As a Barbadian I am acutely conscious of the potential damage that can be done to a society like ours if ignorance and narrow thought are the basis for declarations and perceptions about this disease. The advantages of small cohesive societies can be turned into disadvantages when fear of the unknown turns one group against another. I am impressed therefore by the very temperate and hopeful approach taken in this book with regard to HIV/AIDS in Barbados.

As director of the Pan American Health Organization, my concern is with the regional spread and control of the epidemic and the need to stress the variation that exists among our countries that makes it necessary to tailor responses to local realities. The overriding concern of ours, however, is to transmit the positive aspect of the approach to the problem. There are things that can be done now. Society is not in the same situation of helpless panic that was present in Europe when the Black Death decimated its population. Apart from the new and promising forms of therapy, there are measures that can be taken now to halt the epidemic, although I would not be so naive as to deny the difficulty of changing behaviour.

We must realize that in this world of men and microbes it is fatuous to believe that we know all about our microbial partners. We can be absolutely sure that HIV/AIDS will not be the last infectious disease epidemic to afflict us. This brings into focus the strategies and tactics with regard to infectious diseases that we must learn from HIV/AIDS. We must have a good surveillance system that can detect new diseases as well as the laboratory and research infrastructure that must be in place to deal with them. This is the responsibility of all countries — large and small alike - and the concept of this shared ownership of the problem comes through in this book.

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