The latest chapter in our Heroes of HIV film series follows former prisoner Jean Julux Alusma as he works to increase awareness and understanding of HIV/AIDS among inmates of Haiti’s jails.
“In Haiti, 120,000 people are living with AIDS, of which 67,000 are women, who are always more at risk,” says Alusma. Today, Haiti has the highest HIV/AIDS rate in the Caribbean, with 2.2 percent of adults estimated to be HIV positive. Young women are more than twice as likely to be infected as young men.
In Haiti’s only women’s prison, Alusma trains a select group of peer educators, who in turn pass on the information to other prisoners.
IRIN Film: The Prison Educator
“When prisoners are exposed to other prisoners teaching them about HIV, they are much more willing to accept an HIV test, more willing to access medical care and more eager to take their medications and enter into treatment,” says John May of Health Through Walls, an NGO.
In Haiti, stigma, discrimination, a weak health care system and extreme poverty greatly increase the impact of HIV/AIDS.
According to one of Alusma’s trainees, “in Haiti, most women don’t have jobs and depend on men for clothes and food… to keep that relationship they have to have sex with them. I've learnt a lot here and when I get out, I'm going to be passing on the information to my son and daughter.”