Brazil’s AIDS Fight Overshadows Efforts to Wipe Out Leprosy
Although Brazil is "winning" the fight against HIV/AIDS, it is still "struggling" to eradicate leprosy, despite the fact that the latter disease is "simple and inexpensive to treat," the Wall Street Journal reports. Brazil had 41,000 reported new cases of leprosy last year, compared with 20,000 new AIDS cases. Brazil is second only to India in the number of leprosy cases among its population. Maria Neira, head of communicable diseases for the World Health Organization, said, "Brazil's AIDS program is a model of prevention and treatment. The fact that [Brazil is] No. 2 in leprosy worldwide sends a very negative signal." Although most cases of leprosy can be cured, the disease sparks "powerful feelings of dread and stigmatizes sufferers" in the country, the Journal reports. Brazil's Ministry of Health sponsored three major AIDS advertising campaigns last year, but the country has not had a national leprosy campaign since 1987. Health Minister Jose Serra, who is "expected" to be a presidential candidate next year, said that public health officials "favo[r] AIDS for political reasons," adding that the country's middle class has "rallied around AIDS" (Jordan, Wall Street Journal, 8/20).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.