“It’s not impossible at all”  pg. 2

GHESKIO patient Edner Hyppolite raises his arms in thanks for the medication he is receiving to control his HIV infection.
Photography by Jonathan Rodgers
“Now the challenge is how to implement anti-retroviral therapy across the country, when the health infrastructure is very poor and sometimes very unreliable,” says Vladimir Berthaud, M.D., MPH, a native Haitian who teaches at Meharry Medical College in Nashville, Tenn. “There are a lot of logistical problems. But it’s not impossible at all.”

Toward that end, Berthaud and his physician colleagues at Vanderbilt—David Haas, M.D., and Catherine McGowan, M.D.—are helping to establish an International AIDS Clinical Trial Unit in Port-au-Prince. “You have to be able to measure what you’re doing,” Wright explains. “Without a lot of training of physicians and education of the people, it won’t make sense to just spread out some anti-retroviral drugs.”

Over the years, GHESKIO has fostered a strong sense of trust and loyalty among Port-au-Prince residents, many of whom live in tin-roofed shacks without plumbing or electricity. GHESKIO patients are enrolling in clinical trials, and healthy subjects are signing up for tests of a candidate HIV vaccine.

Continued support from the United States is crucial, Pape says. Added GHESKIO patient Nicole Marcelin in 2004: “Remember what is on the dollar bill—‘In God We Trust.’ It means (Americans)… will help people who are living with the virus. When they help them, they also help themselves.”

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