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Int J STD AIDS. 1994 Mar-Apr;5(2):79-89.

HIV infection in the Caribbean.

Abstract

The Caribbean is a multi-ethnic region with many different cultural differences. The majority of the population is of African descent, but there are also other ethnic groups present such as Indians, Chinese, Syrians and Europeans. The Caribbean region is influenced by countries such as the USA, Great Britain, France and Holland. The countries of the Caribbean have a serious problem with HIV infection and AIDS. The epidemiology of HIV infection in this region, is different from most other parts of the world in that the mode of spread does not easily fit into any of the three WHO patterns. This review shows that the infection initially started in the homosexual/bisexual community, but since then, it has moved to the heterosexual population and this form of contact is now the main mode of transmission of the virus. The Governments of the Caribbean countries have realized the extent of the problem and have taken measures to try to control the epidemic.

PIP:

The Caribbean is a multi-ethnic region of great cultural diversity presently experiencing a serious problem with HIV infection and AIDS. Some of the countries have among the highest annual incidence rates of HIV infection and AIDS in the world. The number of AIDS cases reported keeps rising each year in most Caribbean countries, although the rate of increase is lower than when the epidemic first started. The epidemiology of HIV infection in the Caribbean differs from that of most other parts of the world because the mode of spread does not easily fit into any of the three World Health Organization patterns. This review shows that while HIV infection was initially observed among homosexuals and bisexuals, intercourse between heterosexuals has now become the main mode of HIV transmission in the region. This review further finds that HIV infection and AIDS in the Caribbean affects mainly young to middle-aged adults. Infected males outnumber females, but the gap is narrowing, while the Caribbean has no IV drug abuse problem except for in Bermuda and Puerto Rico. The governments of the Caribbean have realized the extent of the problem and have taken measures to try to control the epidemic. The paper considers the history of the epidemic; its epidemiology in terms of sources, prevalence, age, sex, and risk behaviors; HIV seroprevalence in populations such as homosexual and bisexual men, female prostitutes, intravenous drug users, blood donors, and antenatal clinics; trends; and geographical factors in Trinidad and Tobago, Bahamas, Puerto Rico, Bermuda, Haiti, Dominican Republic, St. Lucia, Cuba, and Guyana. The authors also note the effectiveness of the draconian Cuban policy in controlling the spread of HIV and AIDS, but stress that its severe nature may also drive cases underground, thus leading to an overall understating of the dimensions of the AIDS epidemic in the country.

PMID:
8031923
DOI:
10.1177/095646249400500201
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
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