Brazil is the “Envy of the World” in Fighting HIV/AIDS

   Brazil surprises us as being the nation that has the best response to the HIV epidemic. Brazil proves to the world that it has the technical capacity and the political commitment to eradicate the disease. Brazil continues to launch aggressive national prevention campaigns targeting high risk groups. Such campaigns result in sharp decline of HIV/AIDS cases in Brazil. HIV/AIDS cases among gay men decreased from 3,376 in 1996 to 647 in 2009, and among women, from 7,419 in 1996 to 2,034 in 2009. In contrast, the United States has an increase in the number of HIV/AIDS cases from 20,672 in 1998 to 21,549 in 2009 among African Americans. And there is only a slight decrease in the number of cases among gay men from 17, 357 in 1998 to 14,383 in 2009.

From 2000 to 2007, Brazil almost doubled the amount committed to fighting AIDS whereas the United States allocates a much slower rate. Compared to the United States, Brazil does a better job at providing AIDS medication. Brazil congress passed a federal law mandating universal provision of antiretroviral medication. United States, on the other hand, struggles in providing antiretroviral to every patient. Currently, there is a waiting list of 8,100 individuals in need of antiretroviral.

Brazil’s federal government is successful in working closely with local government to combat HIV/AIDS. They allocate appropriate funds to cities with greater needs. The national AIDS bureaucracy works with gay activists and nongovernmental organization representatives to devise policies in combating the epidemic.

Another factor that works in favor for Brazil is the Brazilian government’s power over pharmaceutical companies in negotiating drug prices. If they fail to reach an agreement, the Brazilian government would produce and distribute generic versions of the patented medicines.

As the result of its success in HIV/AIDS response, Brazil has won numerous awards and praises and is described by Dr. Sanjay Gupta of CNN as the “envy of the world.”

Nations from all over the world can and should learn from Brazil and its battle to protect its people from the HIV/AIDS. Brazil represents a successful story against HIV/AIDS at a national level and it is a story that can be replicated by the world.