UNAIDS delegation in Brazil builds awareness around HIV prevention
30 November 2010
UNAIDS Executive Director Michel Sidibé and a delegation of internationally-known leaders and personalities—including H.E. Festus Mogae, the former President of Botswana, and Nobel Prize Laureate Dr Mohammed ElBaradei—are visiting Brazil to mobilize support and dialogue around HIV prevention globally.
Approximately one third of all HIV-positive people in Central and South America live in Brazil. Although the HIV epidemic in Brazil is relatively stable, there were as many as 70 000 new HIV infections in 2009.
A dialogue with civil society
“With current new HIV infection rates outpacing progress in treatment programmes, a prevention revolution is more important now than ever to make the AIDS response sustainable,” said Mr Sidibé, in a discussion with Brazilian civil society organizations on Monday in Rio de Janeiro.
With current new HIV infection rates outpacing progress in treatment programmes, a prevention revolution is more important now than ever to make the AIDS response sustainable
Michel Sidibé, UNAIDS Executive Director
According to Ms Gabriele Leite, founder of the non-governmental organization Davida, an association of sex workers, recent studies in Rio de Janeiro show that condom use among sex workers and their clients is high, at 92%. “Surveys have shown that HIV prevalence among sex workers in the country is falling,” she added.
Richard Parker, President of the Brazilian AIDS association ABIA, said that women and young people are increasingly impacted by HIV. Poor and marginalized people, as well as those living in rural areas of the country, are also especially vulnerable, he said.
“If there is a single challenge in the national AIDS response, it is the challenge of sustainability,” said Mr Parker, echoing comments from other participants in the discussion. “With a strong economy, Brazil is no longer a funding priority among major international development agencies,” he said.
Protecting children affected by AIDS
While in Rio de Janeiro, the UNAIDS delegation also visited Viva Cazuza Society, a non-profit organization that cares for AIDS orphans and children living with HIV. Children at the centre are provided with round-the-clock medical care and benefit from a range of educational and social services. There are currently 20 HIV-positive children living at the centre.
After the death of my son, I couldn’t bury my head in the sand and watch other children die
Lucinha Araújo, co-founder of Viva Cazuza
Viva Cazuza was established in 1990 by Lucinha and João Araújo in memory of their son “Cazuza,” a Brazilian singer who died of AIDS-related causes. “AIDS is contagious—in quotes and not,” said Lucinha Araujo, while greeting the UNAIDS delegation. “After the death of my son, I couldn’t bury my head in the sand and watch other children die.”
Viva Cazuza works within schools in Rio de Janeiro where the children study to reduce prejudice and discrimination. Members of the organization also offer free lectures in the community focused on HIV prevention.