AIDS Among Young MSM Makes Progress

15 to 24 years in the sights of the Ministry of Health to control the spread of AIDS in the country. Last year alone, 9.5 Brazilians in this age group in every 100 thousand inhabitants, manifested symptoms of the disease. The proportion that may mistakenly seem minimal to the layman, leaving authorities on alert. In 2010, 3,238 new cases were reported in this group. In Brazil, the number of people with AIDS reached 608,230 since the epidemic began, 32 years ago.

The behavior of young people put them in the center of the campaign that the federal government will launch on 1 December, World Day to Combat AIDS, and will be extended to the Carnival. According to Health Minister Alexandre Padilha, 95% of Brazilians know that condoms are the best way to avoid contamination. Nevertheless, there was a decrease in condom use.

With the slogan “AIDS is not prejudice. Prevent,” the campaign also will be posted on social networks and want to reinforce the need for discussion of vulnerability, especially among gay men 15 to 24 years. In 1998 there were 12 ten homosexuals to heterosexuals with AIDS in this age group. In 2010, the proportion was 16 to ten.

The increase of cases in young gay population surprised the coordinator of the Sexual Diversity Politics Social Development Secretariat of Minas (headquarters), Walker La Roche. “There are many institutions working, providing information to the LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender). Our work is done directly in nightclubs, saunas and rendezvous points. I was not expecting that.”

In Walker’s opinion, a possible explanation for the growth is the quality of life with HIV achieved with the advancement of treatments. “Before, it was common to see patients on cadaveric state. This caused fear. Today, it is possible to live relatively well with AIDS, and perhaps the fact that people do not ‘realize’ the disease causes them to stop using condoms.”

Founder and Volunteer Support Group for People living with HIV / AIDS (GAPA-MG), Roberto Domingues Chateaubriand emphasizes the importance of an awareness campaign for young people. But it warned that other groups should not be overlooked. “I think this is essential to ensure specificity, but do not undo something that is equal for all. AIDS does not choose one, sex or age.”

Roberto notes that the challenge is to make young people consequĂȘnci’as the scale of the disease. For him, the youth, which starts earlier and earlier sexual life is not touched by prevention strategies. “They are not under the sign of fear, pain, as happened in the 1980s. No need to panic, but a lot of information and responsibility.”

Despite the red light on the incidence of HIV among young people, the signs point to the stabilization of notifications of AIDS in the country. The number of new cases rose from 35,900 in 2009 to 34,200 last year.

by Jacqueline Mata and Thiago Lemos –
Translated from Portuguese