1 November 1998
International staff: 5 National staff: 19 AIDS/STDS COUNSELLING REQUIRED Cuba looks to tourism to boost an economy still suffering from the abrupt removal of Soviet subsidies reinforced by the effects of the Helms-Burton bill. STD/HIV/AIDS are a priority for the Ministry of Health policy in 1998. MSF advocates prevention and works with the authorities to set up an information and counselling centre in Havana that also provides training and education for health staff. MSF also donates condoms to local posadas (bars) and distributes them at concerts. Another project established a self-help/support group for AIDS-infected people in 15 municipalities of Havana. This includes the production of three manuals aimed at people with HIV/AIDS, their friends, families, and doctors. In September 1997, a similar project was launched for the province of Santiago de Cuba, where there is a high incidence of STD. In order to reduce the incidence of diarrhoeal diseases by increasing access to clean water, MSF runs a water and sanitation programme in Jose MartÃ? district of Santiago de Cuba and a rainwater collection project for rural communities in Granma. Another project aims to reduce the incidence of intestinal parasites among communities in Cuba's mountainous regions and a pilot project supports the production of domestic filters to improve water quality. MSF intervened in response to a dengue fever outbreak in the south of Cuba in July 1997 by donating spraying equipment and insecticides for vector control. MSF collected epidemiological data and was involved in a training and awareness programme among the general population.