Gays in Haiti show their Pride during AIDS march

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A small group of men openly declared their homosexuality during a protest in Haiti at the weekend.

The event, which was held to mark World AIDS Day, has been described as the first gay Pride march in the Caribbean.

The island nation of nine million people is deeply conservative, but about a dozen men wore T-shirts declaring they are masisi, a local slang word for homosexual.

UN and government officials took part in the march in the city of St Marc calling for better treatments and prevention campaigns.

The number of people with HIV has risen in every region of the world in the past two years, with the fastest increases being seen in East Asia, Eastern Europe and Central Asia.

UNAIDS and the World Health Organisation said that in 2007 more than 33 million people live with HIV and AIDS worldwide and every day more than 6,800 people become infected with HIV, and 5,700 people die from AIDS.

Haiti has one of the highest infection rates in the world and gay men and lesbians face stigma and homophobic attitudes, though the voodoo community is accepting of homosexuality.

Michèle Pierre-Louis was able to take office in September as Prime Minister only after she had gone on the radio to deny rumours she is a lesbian.