An increase in the number of HIV cases among women older than age 50 in Brazil has led the government to target the population with a new prevention campaign launched on Friday to coincide with festivities during Carnival, Inter Press Service reports. HIV prevalence among the population has more than tripled since 1996, from 3.7 HIV cases per 100,000 women over age 50 to 11.6 cases per 100,000 in 2006. A survey by the Ministry of Health revealed that although 55.3% of women between ages 50 and 64 are sexually active, only 28% are using condoms with casual partners, or men who are not regular partners. Health Minister Jose Temporao said the trend is "worrying" in light of the increase in HIV cases among older women. According to Inter Press Service, HIV prevalence among the general population has stabilized, and about 630,000 people are living with the virus.
Inter Press Service reports that the government's prevention campaign will target "mature women" and promote empowerment through insistence on condom use. It also aims to raise awareness among men and promote the "democratization of sexuality within relationships," according to Temporao. The slogan of the campaign -- "Sex has no age limit. Neither does protection" -- will appear in radio, television and print advertisements. According to Maria Luiza Pereira of Maria Mulher, a non-governmental women's organization, another factor placing older women at an increased risk for HIV is that many believe they are not at risk of pregnancy, "which reduces concerns over not using condoms." In addition, many sources of statistical tracking lack information about HIV among women over age 50 (Inter Press Service, 2/14).
The government also plans to distribute 65 million condoms -- 20 million more than what is distributed each month throughout the rest of the year -- during the Carnival season, according to Mariangela Simao, head of the national HIV/AIDS program. The government's plan to spend $36 billion to purchase 1.2 billion condoms this year makes it the No. 1 government buyer worldwide, according to Simao. The condoms are given to state agencies, which then distribute them (Brooks, AP/Google.com, 2/15).
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