The campaign, Together with Children and Adolescents – Together We Shall Overcome AIDS! – was inaugurated today in BrasÀlia, Brazil’s capital, by the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), in conjunction with Brazil’s Ministry of Health’s National Program of Sexually Transmitted Diseases and AIDS (STD/AIDS).
According to UNICEF and UNAIDS data, every minute a child under the age of 15 dies from AIDS.
The UNICEF representative in Brazil, Marie-Pierre Poirier, and the coordinator of the National STD/AIDS Program, Pedro Chequer, participated in the inauguration.
The global report on the status of the AIDS epidemic in 2005 cites the Brazilian initiative in preventing the disease among users of injectable drugs as a positive example.
"The contribution of injectable drug consumption to the spread of the HIV virus in Brazilian cities appears to have diminished. Part of this success can be attributed to the risk-reduction programs," the document affirms.
In Brazil, according to Chequer, two-thirds of the injectable drug users who participate in risk-reduction programs do not share syringes. It is estimated that there are around 200 thousand drug users in the country.
The report was issued Monday, November 21, by the Joint United Nations Program on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) and the World Health Organization (WHO). One of the main conclusions of the study is that the batlle against the disease becomes more effective when prevention and treatment activities are carried out in an integrated manner.
The UNICEF director for Latin America and the Caribbean, Nils Kastberg, also emphasized the Brazilian policy of free universal healthcare. Together with Chile, Argentina, and Cuba, Brazil is mentioned among the countries that provide healthcare to around 80% of the people in need of treatment.
"When it comes to treatment, Brazil is advancing in making coverage universal and is helping Paraguay, Bolivia, and other countries," Kastberg remarked.
Chequer said that, despite these advances, the country still has challenges to face. "We are not the paragon of prevention, by any means. I consider it a process that is underway," he reflected.
"In conjunction with civil society, the states, municipalities, and international agencies, we must build a more sustainable policy."
In his view, strengthening the policy to combat AIDS depends upon domestic production of medicines and drug ingredients.
At the release of the global report, Chequer affirmed that HIV infection has increased among blacks. Therefore, the theme of the mobilizations for World Anti-AIDS Day – December 1st – will be AIDS and racism.
According to Chequer, there are indications that the death rate among blacks in consequence of the disease has grown faster than among whites.
"In Brazil the data show clearly that, in effect, between a poor white and a poor black, the poor black suffers more discrimination, has less access to health services and doctors’ appointments, and treatment is differentiated, to the detriment of black people. This is a fact, and we have to assume this responsibility."