Haiti does not recognize same-sex marriages or civil unions. Roughly 80% of the estimated 9 million Haitians affiliate with the Catholic Church, which denounces homosexuality. 2007 CIA estimates state that 120,000 people in Haiti are living with HIV/AIDS. Half are women. Rates of transmission, mostly through heterosexual contact and mother-child transmission, are exacerbated by endemic poverty and high illiteracy rates.
In 1804, Haiti became the first black republic to declare independence. Since, the nation has been riddled with political unrest and exhausted natural resources. It remains the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere. Haiti occupies one-third of the island of Hispaniola, between the Caribbean Sea and the North Atlantic Ocean, just west of the Dominican Republic. Its land area is approximately the size of Maryland.
On January 12, 2010, a devastating 7.0 earthquake struck Haiti leaving thousands dead and missing, resulting in worldwide disaster relief efforts.