The epidemic of HIV and AIDS has hit the Dominican Republic, just as it has hit most other areas of the world. Thankfully, with new laws and a widespread awareness of this disease, the number of people who have or have died from HIV/AIDS has significantly dropped.
On June 7th 2011, the president of the Dominican Republic enacted what is known as the HIV/AIDS law, which guarantees the protection of the civil rights of people living with HIV/AIDS. The law also had, what some people might consider the extreme view, that anybody who knows that they have HIV/AIDS and does not tell a sexual partner could get from 2 to 5 years in prison. The penalty is harsher for people who knowingly transmit HIV/AIDS to people through negligence. People who are charged with such a crime could get as much as 20 years in prison. Even though, some disagreed with some of the terms of the HIV/AIDS law, it at least acknowledged that HIV/AIDS had become a serious concern in the Dominican Republic.
No matter how much concern there was, there was still a problem with getting people with this life-threatening disease the treatment they needed. From 2009 to 2011, the Dominican Republic received 48.3 million dollars from the United States to help in HIV/AIDS prevention, treatment and care. In 2011 alone, 4300 people infected with HIV/AIDS were able to receive treatment and over 55,000 people were able to get tested for the disease. While this has been beneficial for the Dominican Republic, there is still a population there that has been in all but neglected in HIV/AIDS awareness and treatment: the Haitians.
In the Bateys, the small villages that Haitian sugarcane workers and there families live in, the rate of HIV/AIDS is anywhere from 5 to 13 percent. The general population of the Dominican Republic have a rate about 1 percent. Women and men with little to no education that live in the Bateys have the highest rate of HIV/AIDS. The men and women in the Bateys, while most have heard of HIV/AIDS, have no knowledge of how it is transmitted. What is even worse is that they have little or no access to condoms or birth control. While there are non-profit organizations that have been established to give the people living in the Bateys free medical and social help, there is still little government aid. An estimated half a million to a million people live in poverty the Bateys.
There is still a lot of work to do in the treatment and prevention of HIV/AIDS, not just in the Dominican Republic, but all over the world.