What Brazil Has to Teach the US on AIDS

Girl with condom from AIDS campaign in BrazilDr. Richard Parker of Columbia University visited University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) on April 4 for a presentation on Globalization, Structural Violence, and the Political Economy of HIV and AIDS.

The lecture, a part of the Gender and Women’s Studies Health and Empire Lecture Series, was held in the Students Service Building (SSB) and contained important facts about HIV and AIDS world-wide.


Parker states that infection of HIV/AIDS is growing steadily every year.


“In the end of 2003, 38 million adults and children were estimated to be living with HIV and 3.1 million deaths were caused by AIDS in 2002,” Parker said.


Most developing regions like Sub-Saharan Africa, South/Southeast Asia, and Eastern Europe are rapidly increasing to about 34 million people living with HIV.


Even in North America, one million adults and children are living with HIV and 44,000 are newly affected every year.


Overall, 4.9 million people acquired HIV in 2004, of which more than 95% live in developing countries, and about 15% are 15-24 year olds.


The main causes of AIDS points towards unprotected sex, but there are also structural factors including poverty, dislocation, gender inequalities, sexual oppression, and racial oppression and discrimination.


AIDS constantly affects developing countries like Sub-Saharan Africa more because they do not have money to educate their people about AIDS.


“Poverty and social exclusion is what seems to be driving the epidemic…by the year 2020, it is estimated that the infectious disease burden among adults in every region will be linked to HIV,” Parker said.


Parker states that although people are educated about HIV, the majority of them do not change their behavior towards protecting themselves.


While organizations like UNAIDS and World Bank aid victims, Parker states that the Brazilian Model is a better way to encourage safe sex. The Brazilian Model is the AIDS prevention program that focuses on the openness of sexual rights and pleasure.


Its firm foundation is condom protection and continues to be more effective than the United States’ abstinence/stay faithful messages. Recently the model has been successfully stabilizing the HIV/AIDS epidemic in Brazil.


“America and other countries should adopt the Brazilian Model because people are having sex and not many people are following the abstinence messages…there are barely any commercials in U.S. televisions that show the prevention of AIDS,” said Jackie Rodriguez, sophomore Anthropology/History Education major.


“The Brazilian Model gives some hope of confronting the global AIDS epidemic because it has managed to go through explicit confrontations and the guarantee of the right to treatment for all citizens…and yet the fact remains that the vast majority of the world who need AIDS treatment do not have it because they are poor,” Parker said.


There are about 42 billion people infected with HIV who cannot access treatment.


Gender Women’s Studies Assistant Professor Jennifer Brier believes American students should learn more about the most dangerous epidemic affecting the world.


“It’s important for us to understand that questions of health are related to questions of politics and global economic policy, I think it’s important for students to hear talks like this because parts of Chicago are not unlike parts of the world, and we can’t think because we’re in the richest nation in the world that all of the people in our nation have been properly cared for,” Brier said.


Parker has been researching and writing articles and books on the relationship between HIV/AIDS, social, and political inequality for about 25 years in Brazil, and comparing his studies to Africa, Asia, North America, and other Latin American countries.


He is also the Director of the Brazilian Interdisciplinary AIDS Association.


This article was originally published by the Chicago Flame – www.chicagoflame.com.

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