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In a First,
Openly Gay Marchers Join AIDS Rally in Haiti

In a First,
Openly Gay Marchers Join AIDS Rally in Haiti

In what organizers are calling a first, a group of openly gay Haitians participated in a march for HIV/AIDS awareness in St. Marc on Sunday. The event, held a day before World AIDS Day, sought to bring attention to a disease that's still very much stigmatized in the country, the Associated Press reports.

Among the 500 or so participants were United Nations workers and officials from Haiti's health ministry, as well as a contingent of 12 gay men, some of whom wore T-shirts with the antigay Creole term "masisi" imprinted on them, according to the AP. That marked a change from previous HIV/AIDS marches in the country, where widespread homophobia discourages people from being out.

"They suffer double the stigma and double the discrimination," one prominent AIDS activist, Esther Boucicault Stanislas, told the AP.

Of Caribbean countries, the epidemic has hit Haiti the hardest, though the infection rate has dropped from 5.9% in 1996 to 2.2% today. (The Advocate)

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