Brazil To Distribute More Than Three Million Condoms to High School Students for HIV, Pregnancy Prevention
Brazil's Ministry of Health on Thursday announced plans to distribute 3.4 million condoms to high school students in five Brazilian cities as part of its program to prevent teen pregnancy and the spread of HIV, the Associated Press reports. The health ministry will provide up to eight condoms per month through July 2004 to approximately 105,000 sexually active students, and the ministry is currently planning a second phase of the program that would reach 2.6 million sexually active students by 2006. Officials are concerned about the growing number of HIV infections among young girls in the country and are worried that HIV-positive girls who become pregnant will transmit the virus to their infants through childbirth or breastmilk, according to the Associated Press. The ministry reports that 210,946 teenagers gave birth between 1999 and April 2003, and 219,834 teenagers had abortions during that time. The country's program to combat HIV/AIDS -- which includes both prevention measures and the distribution of antiretroviral drugs free of charge -- is "one of the most successful" in the world, according to the Associated Press. Brazilian officials say that their prevention programs have been successful because Brazilians talk openly about sex and because the government provides free condoms at health centers and during Carnival celebrations (Associated Press, 8/14).
Additional information on AIDS in Brazil is available online through kaisernetwork.org's Issue Spotlight on AIDS.