The director of the Brazilian Ministry of Health’s National Sexually Transmitted Diseases and AIDS (STD/AIDS) Program, Pedro Chequer, said on Sunday, February 12, that the use of condoms in Brazil over the years has produced evidence of positive results and can be commemorated for the changes in behavior it has induced.
According to Chequer, the most important statistic is the use of condoms beginning with one’s first sexual relationship. The percentage, which was 9% in 1986, rose to 48% in 1998 and 66% in 2005. Research indicates that over 70% of men use condoms the first time they have sexual intercourse.
Chequer affirmed that the objective of the Ministry’s "Get Dressed; Always Use a Condom" campaign, directed toward the use of condoms during Carnaval, is to increase these numbers even more.
"The ideal situation would be for more than 90% of the population to use condoms the first time they have sexual intercourse. And in casual encounters, although the figures are encouraging, we still need to make this practice more common," he explained.
The Ministry’s goal is for the use of condoms to become a normal practice for men and women, so that people will go about buying condoms in pharmacies and supermarkets the same way they buy matches or candles, for example, for daily use, Chequer added.
From 1980 through June, 2005, the number of AIDS cases reported in Brazil stood at 371,827. 170 thousand of these cases are receiving treatment.
Chequer pointed out that in the younger population, between the ages of 13 and 29, where research shows that condom use is greater, the Ministry has observed a significant decline in the incidence of new cases of AIDS.
In the older population, on the other hand, between the ages of 40 and 49, where condom use is less frequent, an increase in the number of cases has been registered, "clearly demonstrating that the practical solution for controlling the epidemic is the use of condoms to prevent sexual transmission."
According to Chequer, this proves that "condoms represent a safe, effective, and operationally viable alternative." National statistics released by the Ministry reveal that the number of HIV carriers has remained stable at around 600 thousand.
The government’s goal is to expand its capacity to diagnose cases of the disease, since it now takes up to a month to receive test results. According to Chequer, it is not only a matter of reducing the number of cases detected but of reducing the infection in an effective manner.