Haiti and the Caribbean
Haiti occupies the western third of the island of Hispaniola and has a population of 9.7 million. The former French colony was the first independent black republic in the world. In the Western Hemisphere, Haiti is both the poorest nation and the country with the highest HIV burden. GHESKIO is located in Haiti’s capital and largest city, Port-au-Prince.
In the early 1980s, a group of Haitian clinicians noticed a growing number of patients dying from Kaposi’s sarcoma and unusual opportunistic infections. In 1982, they founded the Haitian Group for the Study of Kaposi’s Sarcoma and Opportunistic Infections (GHESKIO). In 1983, GHESKIO published their experiences in The New England Journal of Medicine, documenting the first cases of AIDS in a developing country. In 1987, GHESKIO was recognized as an official independent non-governmental organization by the Haitian Government. In 2000, the Haitian government designated GHESKIO a “Public Utility,” a status reserved for institutions “essential to the welfare of the Haitian people” such as the Red Cross. For more than twenty years, GHESKIO has served as the Haitian Government’s research and training center for HIV/AIDS, and it is now an internationally recognized center of excellence.
Dr. Jean Pape has been the Director of GHESKIO since its inception, and many of GHESKIO’s staff have been with the center for more than twenty years. Dr. Pape and the Board of Directors work with the Community Advisory Board, the Weill Cornell Medical College and other universities, and the Fondation Rodolphe Mérieux to coordinate the core sections of the center, including the clinics, counseling, pharmacy, laboratory, finance, and administration.
Jean W. Pape, MD is the founding and current Director of GHESKIO and a Professor of Medicine at the Weill Medical College of Cornell University. Dr. Pape graduated from the Weill Medical College of Cornell University in 1975. After the completion of his postdoctoral training in infectious diseases at Cornell, he returned to his native Haiti to study child diarrhea. Dr. Pape noted an increase in adult mortality related to diarrhea and with GHESKIO published the first comprehensive description of AIDS in the developing world in 1983. He has become an international leader in efforts to implement programs for the prevention and control of AIDS and tuberculosis in Haiti and other resource-poor countries, providing counsel to international organizations on bioethics, health disparities, and global infectious disease. He has received numerous international awards for his work. In April 2002, French President Jacques Chirac awarded Dr. Pape the Legion of Honor Award for his “contribution to the improvement of the health of the Haitian people and that of people in the world.” Dr. Pape was elected to the United States National Academy of Sciences Institute of Medicine in June 2003.