Science correspondent Jon Cohen, a prize-winning author and one of the world's foremost journalists covering HIV/AIDS, reports on the battle against the disease across Latin America and the Caribbean, in the journal's 28 July 2006 issue.
Over the course of nine months, Cohen traveled to 12 countries in Mexico, Central and South America, and the Caribbean, visiting clinics, brothels, laboratories, shooting galleries, ministries of health, gay sex clubs, universities, slums, migrant way stations, prisons and the homes of many people who struggle to live with the virus.
The result is a package of 10 news stories that provide an unprecedented, in-depth look at both the epidemic in the region, and the responses of governments, nongovernmental organizations and the affected communities.
With the exception of Haiti, no country in Latin America or the Caribbean has seen a marked drop in HIV prevalence. By 2015, according to projections from the World Health Organization and the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS), the 2 million HIV-infected people in Latin America and the Caribbean today will climb to nearly 3.5 million.
Currently, AIDS claims 90,000 lives per year in the region. But between now and 2015, another 1.5 million Latin Americans and Caribbean islanders, at a minimum, are projected to die from the disease.
The epidemics in these countries have common themes, such as poverty, migration, lack of leadership, homophobia and a dearth of research into patterns of transmission. But, Cohen's stories also highlight the significant differences, even those between countries that are next-door neighbors.
As Peter Piot, who heads UNAIDS in Geneva, Switzerland, says about the region, "When it comes to AIDS, it's just not one place."
Some of the countries
Contact: Natasha Pinol
American Association for the Advancement of Science