Brazilian children’s society offers a home from home for children living with HIV
27 March 2009
Viva Cazuza has been working for nearly two decades in Rio de Janeiro to give orphaned children and young people living with HIV a safe haven, antiretroviral treatment and access to programmes to gain confidence and build leadership skills.
The society was created in 1990 in the memory of Brazilian rock star Cazuza who died of an AIDS-related illness in the same year. It’s a non-profit organization that provides a home for 20 children and adolescents, aged 2 to 16, who are living with HIV. Many of the home’s residents were abandoned at birth or left in the care of the Society at a later stage in their life.
Cazuza’s mother, Maria Lucia da Silva Araujo, established the society with the support of the musician’s friends and the broader artistic and philanthropic communities. Since its founding, the society has helped more than 80 children.
UNAIDS Executive Director Mr Michel Sidibé took the opportunity to visit the Viva Cazuza Society on 26 March during his official visit to Brazil.
During Mr Sidibé’s visit of the residence, he was impressed by the passion and committed displayed by Maria Lucia da Silva Araujo in helping children living with HIV and advocating for broader prevention awareness. He said that her work is “more than just helping, but recreating life” for its residents.
Many of the older children are engaged in peer HIV prevention and sex education groups. Fifteen-year-old Leonardo is a member of a group that meets monthly to talk about prevention. He aims, through dialogue, to break down the prejudices of others that are the root of stigma and discrimination.
Beyond providing assistance to children and adolescents, Viva Cazuza also offers HIV treatment support to adults from the surrounding neighbourhood. Each Wednesday, more than 100 people stop by to get their antiretroviral medicine and, if they need support, have a chat with a counsellor.
The next step for Viva Cazuza is to help its growing young residents prepare for adulthood and their coming independence. Empowering them with a range of skills will help ensure their continued health and well-being after they leave the centre, including management of their treatment.