Boucicault, Esther. HIV/AIDS activist – Born in Saint-Marc in 1960, Boucicault was diagnosed as HIV positive in 1995. Following the death of her husband and her son who was born HIV positive, she decided to dedicate herself to saving others from the same fate.
In December 1998 she was interviewed on a private TV station about her illness. This was the first time in Haiti that a person with HIV/AIDS had gone public in such a way. Her testimony provoked a scandal in Saint-Marc, and she endured the hostility of the families of both her first and second husband. Undeterred by the scorn, Boucicault has established a foundation to work to prevent the spread of HIV/AIDS and provide medical and psychological aid to those carrying the virus.
Accompanied by health professionals, she tours Haitian towns giving information and advice to young people. She encourages the use of condoms, believing that even though this is contrary to Catholic religious morals it is more important to speak frankly to adolescents about the dangers they face in a country where more than 5% of adults are HIV positive.
Following Boucicault’s example, others with HIV/AIDS have come into the open, and in 1999 a number of them got together to form the National Solidarity Association. Today, no anti-AIDS campaign takes place without them. Young and old come to hear them speak, and there is no longer the outrage that such public discussion once provoked.
Further reading: Haiti: After Esther Boucicault by Fritznel Octave – January 2000