Sex, Drugs, and HIV/AIDS in Brazil

Sex, Drugs, and HIV/AIDS in Brazil

Sex, Drugs, and HIV/AIDS in Brazil

Sex, Drugs, and HIV/AIDS in Brazil

Synopsis

At the beginning of the twenty-first century, Brazil ranked second only to the United States in the number of reported cases of AIDS. Because Brazil's extensive poverty and inequality, its fragile economic situation, and its limited network of health services, the scarce prevention/intervention resources targeted only the most visible at risk populations -- gay men, sailors, prostitutes, and street children. Virtually forgotten were Brazil's hidden drug users, as well as the tens of millions of individuals living in the country's thousands of favelas, or shantytowns, which are a characteristic part of almost every Brazilian city. In Sex, Drugs, and HIV/AIDS in Brazil the authors examine the emergence of AIDS in Brazil, its linkages to drug use and the sexual culture, and its epidemiology in such populations as cocaine users, "street children," and male transvestite prostitutes. Special attention is focused on an HIV/AIDS community outreach program established in Rio de Janeiro, which represented the first such prevention/intervention program in all of Brazil targeting indigent cocaine users. This 6-year initiative was funded by the U. S. National Institute on Drug Abuse, and carried out by the authors of this book. The research combines anthropological, sociological, and biological perspectives; all data were gathered through empirical and ethnographic techniques.

Excerpt

Since its settlement by the Portuguese in the 16th century, Brazil has provided ceaseless fascination for people in other parts of the world. Brazil has gold, rubber, and coffee. During and after World War II it was a place of refuge, and more recently it boasts the sights and sounds of the world's fifth largest nation. and then there are the Brazilians themselves, who enjoy one of the richest musical cultures in the world. Clearly the most sophisticated popular music across the globe, Brazilian "world beat" is a sensuous mélange of African, Indian, European, and American influences. Nightly in any major city, one can find internationally known jazz artists, regional musicians specializing in native rhythms, and both world-class and local dancers executing the complex moves of the bossa nova, lambada, pagode, and of course, the samba. and not to be forgotten is Antônio Carlos Jobim's "The Girl from Ipanema," considered by the music industry to be the most popular song ever recorded.

The geography of Brazil also is unique, diverse, and captivating. With the exception of Chile and Ecuador, Brazil borders every country in South America and occupies almost half the continent. There are the coastal mountain ranges, the vast wetlands of the Pantanal, and the lush Amazon basin and rain forest.

But despite its beauty and richness, Brazil faces many problems. For example, the country experiences major environmental challenges, which place much of its vast natural wealth under continuous threat. There is pollution and poaching in the Pantanal, where upwards of two million animals are killed each year. There is the exploitation and destruction of the Amazon. This large, complex, and fragile ecosystem- comprising one-tenth of the Earth's plant and animal species, producing one-fifth of the world's oxygen, and containing one-fifth of the planet's fresh water—is endangered through the clearing of rain forests, stripping of entire ecosystems for mines, and damming of rivers. Among the people of Brazil there is extensive poverty and inequality, exacerbated by the country's weak and uneven economic situation. Moreover, the geography, climate, economy, and poverty combine to place large segments of . . .

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