How International Service helped reduce AIDS rates in Brazil
Let us go to the Amazonas State, Brazil. This area is three times the size of France and had the fifth highest rate of HIV/Aids in Brazil, with infection rates climbing at an alarming rate. The State government and local municipal governments wanted to tackle this problem. But it is a challenging part of the world to work in, with immense distances between locations, limited health services and a widespread misunderstanding about HIV and sexually transmitted infections. With 29% of the population living in poverty, 20% functionally illiterate and one quarter of all live births to mothers aged 15 – 19, the challenge was huge.
International Service placed seven development workers and two project managers to train health workers and professionals, produce information and education materials and facilitate surveys into knowledge, attitudes and behaviour. Perhaps most vitally, International Service strengthened our partners’ skills and abilities so that they could sustain their work into the future.
The impact of this programme includes:
- The incidence of AIDS in people over the age of 13 fell by 51%
- The incidence of HIV in pregnant women fell by 13%
- Paratins Municipality saw a 30% increase in the number of people requesting HIV testing and the HIV prevalence in the population fell from 1.78% to 1.06%
- Over 1,500 health professionals and health workers received training
- 50,000 young people and 141,500 adults increased their knowledge of how to prevent STI/AIDS and gained access to condoms and testing services
Lincoln Opie was one of the International Service development workers on the project and was recruited from Uganda. This important South – to – South linking via development workers often had further impact as they return to their own countries with increased knowledge and experience in specialist areas.
In 2009, the Brazilian Ministry of Health published its first official policy document on disability and sexual health entitled “Disabled People: Sexual and Reproductive Rights in the Integration of Healthcare”. The aim was to improve disabled people’s access to public services and will benefit millions of Brazilian disabled people to realise their sexual and reproductive rights. International Service is particularly proud of this result, as International Service organised the first national workshop on Sexual and Reproductive Rights of Disabled People in Brazil in August 2006 and our significant input in advocating for these rights was officially recognised by The Federal Government.