Brazil AIDS Program Touted as Model for World
June 10, 2003
Finding out she was HIV-infected was like a death sentence for Luiza Souto, a 50-year-old homemaker who was proud of her good relationship with her husband, from whom she got HIV. But she was able to get help and credits her current health to a drug cocktail provided by the Brazilian government free of charge.Adapted from:
Souto's case and the survival of countless others who have received free treatment in Brazil is pushing the country's AIDS program into the spotlight as an international model that is being exported into a growing number of developing countries. In the past three years, 31 developing countries have adopted Brazil's guidelines for prevention and treatment of HIV/AIDS. The incoming director general of the World Health Organization, Jong-Wook Lee, recently asked the chief of Brazil's AIDS program, Paulo Teixeira, to come to Geneva to help formulate new policies for combating AIDS around the world.
With new efforts promised by the United States and European nations, successful programs such as Brazil's might provide lessons in fighting the disease. "What Brazil has shown is that a middle-income country without massive funding can combat AIDS," said Mauro Schechter, a leading AIDS researcher. "Here, life expectancy has increased and many deaths have been avoided," he said.
In 1983, Brazil launched its AIDS program. In the program's 20th year, less than 1 percent of Brazil's adult population -- 600,000 people -- is infected with HIV. A major reason for that low rate is that Brazil's prevention program promotes frank talk about safe sex. On the treatment side, antiretroviral drugs are provided free to anyone who cannot afford them.
About 125,000 patients receive the AIDS cocktail for about $2,000 per patient per year. Brazil has been able to provide low-cost treatment because in 1997 it started to manufacture its own generic AIDS medicines. AIDS-related deaths have been cut by more than half in the past eight years. Last year, Paulo Teixeira pledged that Brazil would provide $1 million to pay for 10 proposed pilot projects in Latin America and Africa.
06.08.03; Patrice M. Jones