Feature story

Haiti’s crisis exacerbates vulnerability of people living with and affected by HIV. UNAIDS committed to continuing to provide support to people in need.

27 March 2024

The humanitarian crisis in Haiti is exacerbating the vulnerability of people living with or affected by HIV, particularly women, girls, and key populations. The situation has deepened existing inequalities, and multiplied the risks faced by marginalised communities. In the face of this adversity, UNAIDS continues to work with partners to ensure that people living with or affected by HIV have access to life-saving HIV services, including treatment and prevention services.

For example, in the West Department, over 50,000 people are receiving antiretroviral treatment and are at high risk of disruption. HIV prevention and health care services also face disruption. The recent violence continues to leave thousands of families traumatized. Thousands of people now find themselves unsafe and exposed to all types of risks. Displaced people and vulnerable populations need emergency aid and safe, protected spaces.

"Communities already at risk of HIV in Haiti have been made even more vulnerable, and people living with HIV are facing greater challenges in accessing treatment and care", said UNAIDS Regional Director for Latin America and the Caribbean, Luisa Cabal. "Together with all the United Nations agencies, and with partners, UNAIDS is advocating for safe and unhindered humanitarian access, and the protection health facilities and health workers."

The situation in Haiti is dire, with over 5.5 million people in need of assistance, including more than three million children. The World Food Programme has noted that around 1.4 million Haitians are "one step away from famine." The UN Humanitarian Coordinator for Haiti has noted that the humanitarian response plan is only six percent funded. Less than half of the health facilities in Port-au-Prince are functioning at their average capacity, and there is a pressing need for safe blood products, anesthetics, and other essential medicines.

In the face of these challenges, UNAIDS and its Cosponsors, together with the United States President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, and the Observatory of Civil Society for HIV/TB/Malaria are supporting Haiti’s National AIDS Program.

UNAIDS has been working with the Ministry of Health and Population Unit for Management of Health Emergencies to support HIV treatment delivery. This support includes programmes to provide a broad package of support to affected communities. For example, together with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and in collaboration with the Organisation de Développement et de Lutte contre la Pauvreté (ODELPA), UNAIDS supports girls and women who are survivors of gender-based violence by training community leaders and granting empowerment funds for women and men's income-generating activities.

"We are working to ensure that people living with HIV have continuity of antiretroviral treatment as well as access to essential needs, especially including the most vulnerable people across the most affected areas," explains Christian Mouala, UNAIDS Country Director for Haiti. "UNAIDS remains committed to not let the humanitarian crisis disrupt the progress that has been made in the HIV response.  The United Nations stand together to support the people of Haiti."