Brazil Plans To Launch HIV Testing Centers, Advertising Campaign Encouraging HIV-Positive People To Seek Treatment
On Thursday, Brazilian health officials announced plans to set up HIV testing centers in remote areas of the country and to increase advertising to encourage people living with HIV/AIDS to seek treatment, the AP/Advocate.com reports.
Mariangela Simao, head of the Brazilian Ministry of Health's National Program of Sexually Transmitted Diseases, said that many Brazilians living with the virus are waiting too long to seek treatment. Simao cited a survey of 115,411 people living with AIDS that found 44% of them had serious complications before beginning treatment. Simao said the delay in seeking treatment could be related to difficulties traveling to testing centers and some people's unwillingness to admit they are at risk for HIV (AP/Advocate.com, 2/15).
Simao said, "In a country like Brazil, where we have access to diagnostics and treatment, it is unacceptable" that detection is so late. The health ministry noted that the percentage of Brazilians not receiving treatment until the later stages of the disease is similar to that of developed countries, such as Spain, the United Kingdom and the U.S. (AFP/Google.com, 2/14).
According to Simao, people who sought treatment in the early stages of the disease lived longer and "remained active on the job market." However, those who waited until the later stages of the disease "either became too weak to work or died," she said.
The Brazilian government's HIV/AIDS treatment program provides no-cost antiretrovirals to everyone in need of treatment. In addition, the government distributes tens of millions of condoms annually in an effort to reduce the spread of the virus. About 600,000 people in the country are living with HIV/AIDS, the AP/Advocate.com reports (AP/Advocate.com, 2/15).