The World Bank’s forecast in the decade of the ’80’s about the growth in the number of Aids cases in Brazil did not prove correct. It was predicted that 1.2 million people would be HIV carriers in 2000.
The actual figure, according to data from the Ministry of Health, was 600 thousand cases, half the expected total.
This information was presented by the President of the Brazilian Society for the Study of Infectious Diseases, João Mendonça, during an address to the 1st Brazilian Aids Congress, which ended September 1st in the Pernambuco Convention Center, in Olinda, Northeastern Brazil.
The physician credited control of the epidemic to the success of the National Program to Combat Aids, implemented in Brazil by the Ministry of Health.
According to Mendonça, the effort has resulted in the reduction of opportunistic infections, hospitalizations, and deaths. Nevertheless, he stressed that it is still necessary to overcome the obstacles that impede the evolution of treatment.
He cited the side effects of medications, especially bodily changes, beginning with the redistribution of fat, called “lipodystrophy,” and the increase in cholesterol and triglycerides, which render patients vulnerable to heart attacks and strokes.
Brazil is soon to be the first country where an International Center for Technical Cooperation on AIDS is located. The center will train personnel from 25 countries that Brazil already has AIDS cooperation agreements with.
In 2003, an estimated five million people were infected with the AIDS virus, known as HIV, raising the total of HIV positive people worldwide to 40 million. It is believed that three million people died of AIDS in 2003.
Brazil was selected to be home to the first international AIDS center because of the fact that the country has become a referral center in preventing and treating the disease, reports Peter Piot, the executive director of the UN joint HIV/AIDS program (UNAIDS).
It will cost US$1 million to set up the center, half to be paid by UNAIDS, the other half by the Brazilian Ministry of Health.
Brazil’s Minister of Health, Humberto Costa, says the decision to put the center in Brazil is recognition of the country’s efforts in the fight against AIDS.
Costa said Brazil is eager to share its experience and skills with other countries.
“This center will make it possible to strengthen our relations with other countries where we already have agreements. We will be able to train a lot of people and help even more,” said the Minister.
The first AIDS death in Brazil took place in 1983. Following that, the government set up its program which gives people free condoms and examinations, besides running educational campaigns. For those who are HIV positive, the government furnishes free antiretroviral drugs for treatment.
At the moment, Brazil has an estimated 600,000 HIV positive people (it is believed that without the AIDS program that number would be at least double).
Since 1983, a total of 149,500 people have died of AIDS in Brazil (that number is significantly lower than it would be if the AIDS program did not exist).