Although it is typically seen as a day to raise awareness of HIV, there are many ways to do so and contribute to the fight against this disease. Let's remember and celebrate the lives of the 39 million people who have lost their lives to HIV/AIDS and not forget the relatives, friends and orphans who have been affected. Let's support those currently living with HIV by encouraging them to monitor their health status carefully, be adherent to antiretroviral therapy treatment (ART), consult with health practitioners regularly and to stay positive. Let's increase awareness of HIV prevention and treatment by educating and sharing the true facts to dispel myths to fight stigma and discrimination. Raising awareness can prevent new infections and encourage more people to get tested. Let's celebrate the progress we have witnessed over the past two decades. Let’s also resolve to work harder towards closing the gaps between the medical and public health fields to address the barriers that prevent access to care. We need to "step up the pace" for this one last mile.

What does Caris Foundation do in relation to HIV/Aids?

Caris Foundation International has been working in Haiti since 2008 to improve the care of HIV positive children, young people and pregnant women. In partnership with the Haitian Ministry of Health (MSPP) and USAID/PEPFAR, Caris coordinates the Early Infant Diagnosis of HIV program in over 120 hospitals and clinics nationally. The program seeks to ensure that every child born to an HIV-positive mother is tested early. Where infants are diagnosed positive, we help initiate lifesaving Anti Retroviral (ARV) medication as soon as possible. Approximately 15,000 tests have been done since 2010, and 80% of the HIV-positive infants that have started ARV treatment are still alive.

Caris and World AIDS Day

Caris had the honor to coordinate the first AIDS Walk in Haiti, in partnership with MSPP and the Haitian Red Cross. Over 300 participants marched through Port au Prince, chanting, distributing condoms, waiving awareness-promoting banners and posters. It was a huge success! Motorcycle taxi drivers were stopping by the parade of people to ask for condoms; construction workers were heard singing Creole HIV prevention songs that were being chanted through megaphones; teenage Red Cross volunteers were taking turns holding large banners and distributing red balloons to the crowd. Through the preparation for the walk we were able to reach the Haitian population with HIV public health messages through newspapers reports and national and international radio broadcasts. There is still a need to increase awareness, eliminate discrimination and to show support for people living with HIV through advocating for access to medication and treatment options. The Caris Foundation would like to thank those that help us every day in working to improve the lives of people affected and with HIV. Our thoughts and prayers are with the 34 million people world wide living with HIV, for those who have lost loved ones. We need to think more about those who are at risk of contracting the disease.

Let our generation be the LAST to have to live with this pandemic and the ONE to eradicate it.

Photos by Elektra Carras