The consequences of racism for black HIV victims will be the theme of World AIDS Day (December 1st) in Brazil. Blacks represent 47.3% of the Brazilian population, according to the Brazilian Institute of Geography and Statistics (IBGE).
According to the Brazilian Ministry of Health, the choice of the theme "AIDS and Racism, Brazil Has to Live without Prejudice" was based on a preliminary study indicating an increase of nearly 20% in the incidence of the disease among black women between 2001 and 2004, at a time when the disease registered a decline among the white population.
Pedro Chequer, director of the Ministry of Health’s National STD (Sexually Transmitted Diseases)/AIDS Program, says that racial prejudice and economic inequality contribute to the spread of the disease among blacks, mainly as a result of lack of information.
"Studies such as the IBGE’s show that being black in Brazil is directly associated with conditions of poverty and low income. These conditions are more frequent among blacks than white."
Chequer went on to observe that the mortality rate from AIDS is also greater in the black population. "This shows that the diagnoses are being made late and that unfavorable socioeconomic conditions also lead to the occurrence of opportunistic illnesses."
Despite the tendency for the disease to be stabilized in the country, the Ministry of Health estimates that there are around 600 thousand HIV carriers in Brazil and that the poor population is the most affected.