How Many People in Haiti Have AIDS? Trump's Alleged Insult Immigrant Insult Doesn't Reflect Facts

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President Donald Trump in the White House. REUTERS

The Trump administration spent the holiday weekend fending off the uproar over President Donald Trump's reported insults about largely black immigrants, especially his alleged insistence that thousands of Haitians bound for the United States "all have AIDS."

But the remark wasn't just offensive — it's certainly also incredibly wrong.

Trump made the crack about a group of 15,000 Haitians sent by that nation's government to the United States earlier this year, according toThe New York Times. The White House has said Trump did not make that remark, and no details were immediately released about the Haitians he was talking about. But the numbers behind Haiti's AIDS crisis, while alarming, show that Trump likely did not understand the current state of the disease on the Caribbean island.

Trump's alleged insult was likely inspired by Haiti having the most overall cases of HIV/AIDS in the Caribbean and Latin America, a status that has long attracted international attention to relief efforts there. A team of international researchers concluded that HIV/AIDS spread to Haiti in the 1960s before it entered the United States and the rest of the world. In 2003, as much as 11.9 percent of the adult population was estimated to have HIV/AIDS.

As of 2016, about 150,000 adults in Haiti are estimated to be living with HIV/AIDS, including approximately 7,900 new cases that year alone, according to data from UNAIDS. That works out to a little over 2 percent of Haiti's population of more than 10.8 million people, with sex workers (8.4 percent HIV prevalence) and prisoners (4.3 percent HIV prevalence) among the most infected populations. Frightening as it is, the latest estimates show a decline in the crisis compared to recent years.

Many years of activism and education have helped to curb Haiti's AIDS crisis in the past decades. Health care organizations such as Partners In Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, to name just two, have helped run educational initiatives through Haiti to spread awareness about AIDS ailments and prevention. According to UNAIDS, HIV cases and AIDS-related deaths in Haiti have both fallen by about 25 percent since 2010, the year an earthquake disrupted efforts on the island and killed more than 230,000 people, according to government estimates.

The United States has long been the financial leader in the international fight against AIDS, but Trump is ready to change that. His proposed federal budget called for a $222 million budget reduction for the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB, & Malaria, leaving it with a $1.13 billion budget. The budget blueprint said that for global health efforts, "other donors can and should increase their commitments to these causes."

Trump's Haiti slam reportedly came during a June briefing about immigration, in which he also said 40,000 Nigerians would never "go back to their huts" after seeing the United States, according to The Times.

The White House denied the Times story, which was based on sources who attended or were briefed on the meetings, and called the reported remarks "outrageous claims."