Journalist Kwame Dawes explores the shame culture that isolates homosexuals and persons with HIV/AIDS in Jamaica.
The Caribbean conjures up visions of sun, sand and tourism to most but with HIV rates second only to those of sub-Saharan Africa, these islands face a complex and disturbing set of circumstances in their fight against the AIDS epidemic.
Poor infrastructure, low-resources, and endemic poverty are commonalities shared by most of these island nations, while diverse histories, languages and cultures make each country's plight unique.
Through articles, photography and videos, as well as original poetry and music, reporting in this Gateway underscores both obstacles and successes. Reporting from Haiti, before and after the earthquake, highlights initial progress and devastating set-backs. In the Dominican Republic, Haitian immigrants living in a stateless limbo face discrimination and hostility, keeping health care for AIDS patients out of reach. And in Jamaica, stigma, homophobia and anti-gay laws force the epidemic underground with disastrous results.
The reporting in this Gateway paints a regional portrait of the epidemic, where culture and religion clash with the realities of homosexuality and commercial sex; and where the wealthiest and the poorest countries in the hemisphere meet in a tangled web of tourism, aid donations, domestic policy, and external expertise.
The Pulitzer Center's reporting on HIV/AIDS in the Caribbean was made possible with support from the MAC AIDS Fund.