“As there is this treatment available that is more efficient, with fewer side-effects, all people living with HIV in Haiti should be able to access it.”
Gérald Marie Alfred is the President of the LGBT organisation Citizen Action for Social Equality in Haiti (ACESH – Action Citoyenne pour l’Egalité Sociale en Haïti).
ACESH works on a range of activities including fighting against discrimination based on sexual orientation, prevention, and support of people living with HIV in their day-to-day lives.
An active advocate in the fight against HIV, Alfred was diagnosed with HIV in 2004. Since then, he has been pledging for more education programmes on HIV prevention, infection and treatment options.
“I can see that TLD (tenofovir/lamivudine/dolutegravir) is a really good treatment, that you take only once a day, and with fewer side-effects. The issue is that, here in Haiti, there’s no education or information about this treatment so there is not a big proportion of people who have been switched to a DTG-based regimen yet.”
In 2016, Haiti counted 150 000 people living with HIV among whom 55% were accessing antiretroviral therapies. It is the country with one of the highest HIV prevalence rates, percentage-wise, in the Caribbean. However, since 2010, new HIV infections have decreased by 25%.
According to Alfred, the main challenge in Haiti is to retain people in HIV medical care because of stigma-related barriers to accessing HIV services and lack of education on care and treatment: “people have to be informed on the treatment they are taking. When they come to their medical appointment, they get a medical response but it’s missing psycho-social support on how to take their treatment, how to deal with side-effects, and ultimately understanding that they need ongoing HIV care and treatment for the rest of their lives even if they don’t feel sick.”
Himself on an efavirenz-based regimen, Alfred is looking forward to being able to switch to TLD: “As there is this treatment available that is more efficient, with fewer side-effects, all people living with HIV in Haiti should be able to access it.”
UNAIDS country stats – Haiti