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World Bank Proposes Up To $150 Million To Fight HIV/AIDS in the Caribbean

Available in: Español, Português, Français
Press Release No:2001/310/LAC
Contact Person:
Christopher Neal (202) 473-7229
Cellular (202) 302-5021
Constantine Tsatsos (202) 458-1419

QUEBEC CITY, April 21, 2001 
The World Bank plans to devote up to $150 million to fight HIV/AIDS in the Caribbean, World Bank President James D. Wolfensohn announced today while attending the Americas Summit.

"AIDS has become the major cause of death among men under the age of 45 in the Caribbean," Wolfensohn said. "With the Caribbean having the world's highest HIV prevalence rate outside sub-Saharan Africa, we must act urgently to save lives and protect human potential in the region."

The World Bank President said the five-year program is expected to be presented for consideration by the Bank's Board in June. The new program is in addition to more than $1 billion that the World Bank has devoted to 99 HIV/AIDS-related projects in 56 countries. Two Bank loans totaling $325 million have helped Brazil reduce the death rate from AIDS by 50 percent since 1993.

The Bank's support announced today will build on existing programs and follow the Caribbean Regional Strategic Plan of Action for HIV/AIDS, developed by the member governments of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) and the Dominican Republic.

"This program responds to the leadership shown by Caribbean governments," Wolfensohn said. "It will help them intervene quickly to prevent the spread of AIDS, with programs focused on high-risk groups, as well as treatment for those living with AIDS."

Recent data shows over 360,000 people living with HIV/AIDS in the Caribbean, but estimates place the number at over 500,000, due to underreporting. More than 80,000 Caribbean children have been orphaned by AIDS.

The AIDS infection rate is estimated to have reached 12 percent in some urban areas. In many countries, it has spread from high-risk groups to the general population.

The University of the West Indies, in a study with UNAIDS and the World Bank, estimated that effective HIV/AIDS prevention efforts, plus basic care and treatment for patients suffering from AIDS, would cost about $260 million per year for the Caribbean region.

The cost for retroviral treatment for each new case of HIV/AIDS would be significantly higher. At current prices, each case prevented removes the need for about $8,000 a year in treatment costs, while reducing the spread of the virus and the future suffering it brings. UNAIDS and its co-sponsors are working with the pharmaceutical industry to see if those costs can be dramatically reduced.

The Bank is a co-sponsor of UNAIDS and also supports two major global vaccine initiatives, the International AIDS Vaccine Initiative, and the Global Alliance on Vaccines and Immunization. An AIDS Vaccine Task Force has worked with partners on the AIDS Vaccine Initiative to promote research and development of an effective HIV/AIDS vaccine.
For more on the World Bank's work in the Latin America and Caribbean region, please visit:

For more on the World Bank's Work on HIV/AIDS, please visit:

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