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Brazilian government/Catholic Church cooperate against AIDS

Data Source: CIA World Factbook

Brazilian adult AIDS prevalence (CIA World Factbook)

Longstanding public clashes over abortion and condoms are not preventing the Catholic Church and government in Brazil from cooperating in pursuit of the common public good.

In a joint AIDS-testing campaign, the Brazilian National Confederation of Bishops and Brazil’s Ministry of Health have launched Declare Your Love to Yourself.

While continuing to disagree with the Brazilian government’s model condom distribution program, the church has, according to The Catholic News Service, made an important commitment to encouraging Brazilians to visit clinics for HIV testing. Specifically:

AIDS ministry volunteers work in 142 of 272 dioceses in Brazil. Another 260,000 volunteers from the Catholic children’s ministry and 80,000 from the health ministry will work on the campaign. The church also will sponsor print, radio and TV ads in the campaign, which will begin in five state capitals before extending across Brazil.

. . .
According to Brazil’s Health Ministry, 60 percent of the Brazilian population has not been tested for HIV, although the tests are free and widely available. Health Minister Jose Gomes Temporao said this is why the partnership with the church is so important.

Brazil has since 1996 combined massive condom distribution with free anti-retroviral drugs to those diagnosed as HIV-positive and aggressive public awareness campaigns.

Amid and perhaps despite a culture which openly celebrates sex, it works, as NPR reported:

No one can argue that Brazil’s way of combating the spread of HIV/AIDS hasn’t worked. Back in 1991, Brazil and South Africa both had HIV prevalence rates of just over 1 percent of the population. A decade later, South Africa’s rate had skyrocketed to 25 percent. Brazil’s rate remained at 1 percent.

Brazil is still an overwhelmingly Catholic (> 70%) country. Thanks in part to the long neglect which preceded implementation of its effective policy, Brazil is also, says U.S. Agency for International Development, “the epicenter” of South America’s HIV/AIDS epidemic. Church and government agreeing to disagree while working together toward a more effective effort against HIV/AIDS is, especially there, a model to watch.

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October 25, 2009 - Posted by | Uncategorized

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