The Impact of Cultural Context on Brazilian Adolescents' Sexual Practices

By Levinson, Ruth Andrea; Sadigursky, Clesia et al. | Adolescence, Summer 2004 | Go to article overview

The Impact of Cultural Context on Brazilian Adolescents' Sexual Practices


Levinson, Ruth Andrea, Sadigursky, Clesia, Erchak, Gerald M., Adolescence


AIDS has become a global pandemic. Hundreds of studies, programs, and conferences have alerted the world to the prevalence and dangers of AIDS in North America, the Caribbean, Europe, sub-Saharan Africa, and parts of Asia. AIDS appears to have taken hold in South America somewhat later, and the incidence remains relatively low. However, socioeconomic and cultural conditions in the region indicate that AIDS could soon become a very serious problem--that is, at the level of sub-Saharan Africa. In this paper, we are particularly concerned with Brazil, the largest and most populous country in South America, with by far the largest number of HIV seropositive persons (Sipan & Hovell, 1996). Further, Brazil is a young country demographically: one-third of the population is under 16. Thus, in order to be effective, AIDS and sexually transmitted disease (STD) prevention programs will have to reach adolescents and impact their sexual and condom use behavior. Our paper reports interview findings from Brazilian teenagers about the nature of their sexual relationships and their experiences using condoms, and makes recommendations for HIV prevention and intervention programs.

A UNAIDS/WHO Epidemiological Fact Sheet reports 120,409 AIDS cases in Brazil (as of 1997) out of a population of 163,132,000 (UN-AIDS, 1998). When sources of transmission were identified, heterosexual contacts accounted for 21% of the cases, while homosexual and bisexual contacts accounted for 33%. Project Hope, a Brazilian nongovernmental organization (NGO) program, states that "about half of the cases to date have been found among homosexual and bisexual men. At the same time, the male to female ratio of AIDS cases has fallen from 9:1 in 1987 to the current 3:1 [in 1997]" (UNAIDS, 1998). According to Csillag (1999), "about 60,000 children in Brazil have a mother with AIDS; 16,000 have lost mothers to AIDS; and about 140,000 have a mother who is HIV-positive." Notably, Inciardi, Surratt, and Telles (2000) place the number of AIDS cases at 163,355 in 1999, an increase of over 35% in just two years.

AIDS awareness campaigns were launched in the late 1980s and early 1990s by Brazilian and non-Brazilian organizations but have been considered to be largely ineffective in impacting behavior because they did not place enough emphasis on the sociocultural context in which heterosexual relations take place (Araujo & Diniz, 1995). Many of the AIDS prevention and education programs were designed for homosexual men, commercial sex workers, and intravenous drug users (Goldstein, 1994). Yet women are particularly at risk for contracting HIV in Brazil due to the cultural context of sexual relationships, and the ongoing increase in infection of women due to heterosexual contact underscores this point. It is common practice for married and unmarried men to engage in homosexual relations (although they are not considered such in Brazil; specifically, to practice nonreceptive "dominant" anal sex), and to not tell their wives or lovers (Inciardi, Surratt, & Telles, 2000; Parker, 1987). The nature of sexual interactions is also very gender-hierarchical, with women being punished, hurt, or rejected for refusing sex, asking for condom use, or asking the man about his sexual history (Araujo & Diniz, 1995; Parker, 1991). Thus, there is an urgent need in Brazil to develop AIDS prevention programs that address the social construction and dynamics of sexual relationships between men and women (Araujo & Diniz, 1995; Brasilia, 1999; Goldstein, 1994; Sipan & Hovell, 1996).

Another factor that should be considered in any comprehensive condom use intervention in Brazil is that men are generally not circumcised, except in the case of phimosis (a condition in which a tight foreskin prevents the baring of the glans of the penis) or some other unusual condition. It has recently been found that AIDS is far more prevalent in areas of Africa where men are generally not circumcised than in areas where they are, either near birth or as part of male initiation ceremonies (Halperin, 1998; Halperin & Bailey, 1999; Pennink, 2001).

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

The Impact of Cultural Context on Brazilian Adolescents' Sexual Practices
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.