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14, December, 2019

Discrimination and lack of information raise AIDS cases in Brazil

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AIDS

Discrimination and lack of information raise AIDS cases in Brazil, says UN

Virus-maladie-contamination

At least one third of new infections in Latin America occur in young people

The number of new cases of AIDS in Brazil increased by 11% and the rate of deaths in the country attributed to AIDS rose by 7%, between 2005 and 2013, according to a report released on Wednesday by UNAIDS (UN Program for HIV and AIDS).

The data drew attention because they go against the global average, where cases of infection have fallen by 13% over the past three years and the number of related deaths has decreased by 35% from 2005 to 2013, according to the report. For experts heard by the BBC Brazil, among the causes of the increase are misinformation among young people, discrimination against gays and problems focusing on government campaigns. According to UNAIDS, HIV prevalence in Latin America is concentrated in certain more vulnerable groups, such as gay men, sex workers and drug users. In addition, at least one third of new infections in the region occur in young people aged 15 and 24.

Gay men

Unaids director in Brazil, Georgiana Braga-Orillard, said Brazil's survey numbers were not entirely surprising, as official data had already pointed to a higher incidence of HIV infection among young homosexuals. “Many young people today protect themselves less, think they don't need a condom, even because they believe AIDS is a disease of the past or older people. They didn't see idols die, like [the singers] Cazuza or Renato Russo, ”said Georgiana. For her, misinformation about the disease is not just about the government. “Today, there is less talk about AIDS also in schools and even in the media, where the subject ends up only on the science page.” The Brazilian government confirmed to BBC Brazil that there is a “growth of new cases, concentrated in these and [this] is in keeping with the scenario that the Ministry of Health has presented in the latest epidemiological bulletins ”, but did not say what influenced its increase.

Prejudice

In addition to the lack of information among young people, the director of Unaids also cites discrimination against groups such as gay men, which makes them take time to test and seek treatment early. “One problem is that, because they face discrimination, many homosexuals do not seek help or seek late,” says Georgiana.

Treatment can reduce transmission capacity by up to 96%

“You have to look closely at why these people are not looking for treatment, as Brazil has everything: free treatment, medicines done here, quick tests also free.” The infectious disease doctor and researcher at Fiocruz Clinincas STD / AIDS Research Laboratory Brenda Hoagland evaluates that this is a national reality: “What happens in Brazil is that the diagnosis is late. If the diagnosis is late, it increases the risk of transmission and also of death ”. She explains that treatment is important in prevention policy, since "studies show that when a person is properly treated the virus can become undetectable and have its transmission capacity reduced by up to 96%."

Testing

According to the government, UNAIDS figures also point to the fact that Brazil, during the same period, has increased HIV testing on its population. In a statement, the Ministry of Health reported that “the coverage of the exams has gone from 28% of the sexually active population (15 to 64 years) in 2005 to 37% in 2013”. The Fiocruz researcher evaluates that data capture also improved over the period and may have influenced the increase in the number of people diagnosed. Brenda, however, criticizes the orientation campaigns and shows concern about the growth of the virus in one of the most vulnerable groups: men who have sex with men. “We have to change the way we campaign. First, because it only happens at Carnival. Then why do you need to have more educative and educative campaigns about where the risk is greatest. Campaigns point out that the risk is the same, but the risk of having anal sex or oral sex is different, for example, ”he says. The researcher emphasizes that it is important to make everyone aware. "The reality is that the number of times a person protects himself doesn't change much regardless of sexual orientation." After 30 years of the epidemic, she believes, "You have to say things the way they are so that individual people can work at risk."

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