The HIV/AIDS Epidemic in the Dominican Republic: Key Contributing Factors.

Published: March 2, 2011

Abstract

This article reviews HIV/AIDS epidemiological data and recent research conducted in the Dominican Republic, with a focus on explaining the variability in estimated seroincidence and prevalence within the country. HIV seroprevalence estimates range from 1.0% (in the general population) to 11.0% among men who have sex with men (MSM). Some have indicated that the highest HIV seroprevalence occurs in Haitian enclaves called bateyes (US Agency for International Development [USAID], 2008), which are migrant worker shantytowns primarily serving the sugar industry in the Dominican Republic. Others report higher or comparable rates to the bateyes in areas related to the tourism and sex industries. As in other Caribbean and Latin American countries, reported HIV transmission in the Dominican Republic is predominantly due to unprotected heterosexual sex and the infection rate has been increasing disproportionally among women. The Dominican Republic represents two thirds of the Hispaniola island; the western one third is occupied by Haiti, the nation with the highest HIV prevalence in the western hemisphere. Although data is limited, it shows important differences in seroprevalence and incidence between these two countries, but commonalities such as poverty, gender inequalities, and stigma appear to be pivotal factors driving the epidemic. This article will discuss these and other factors that may contribute to the HIV epidemic in the Dominican Republic, as well as highlight the gaps in the literature and provide recommendations to guide further work in this area, particularly in the role of governance in sustainable HIV prevention.

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