Montego Bay, Jamaica — Caribbean leaders called AIDS the single biggest threat to the region’s development and said Saturday finding cheaper drugs is the key to halting the spread of the disease.
About 500,000 people in the Caribbean have the deadly disease, threatening to cripple the labor force as it prepares for free-trade and increased competition, St. Kitts and Nevis Prime Minister Denzil Douglas told reporters on the final day of a Caribbean summit.
The number does not include Cuba, where infection rates are low.
“HIV/AIDS continues to be the main threat to the development of the region,” said Mr. Douglas, who oversees health matters in the 15-member Caribbean Community.
Officials are conducting a study to determine the economic impact of the disease in the Caribbean, which has the world’s highest infection rate after sub-Saharan Africa, he said.