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Faith-Based Leaders, UNICEF & Sister UN Agencies: Together in Rio de Janeiro to Guarantee the Rights of Children & Adolescents Living with HIV

© UNICEF Brazil/2007
A large red ribbon, the internationally-recognized symbol of solidarity for those living with HIV and AIDS, was placed in front of the "Christ the Redeemer" statue, to mark World AIDS Day in Rio de Janeiro, on 1 December 2007.

World AIDS Day – 1 December 2007 – Rio de Janeiro: The theme of World AIDS Day in Brazil this year is "Qual a sua atitude?" … “What’s your attitude?", in English.  The theme was chosen to help mobilize adolescents and children, and all of Brazilian society, in a positive way around the issue of HIV/AIDS.  While a series of important events took place throughout the country, perhaps the main and most visible activity occurred at what is known by many as one of the new seven wonders of the world, and is certainly one of the world’s most recognized tourist attractions: the statue of ‘Cristo Redentor’ (Christ the Redeemer), which overlooks all of Rio de Janeiro from Corcovado Mountain.

A massive red ribbon - approximately 10 meters high – was placed at the base of the statue at today’s ceremony to commemorate World AIDS Day in Brazil. The red ribbon is known around the world as the symbol of solidarity with those living with HIV and AIDS. 

The event included an ecumenical ceremony, with representation and participation by various faith-based leaders, including Catholics, Protestants and Muslims, as well as African and Brazilian indigenous-based faiths. All gathered together in a united manner to express their solidarity for those living with HIV in a ceremony led by the Cardinal Arch-Bishop of Rio de Janeiro, Dom Eusébio Oscar Scheid.

In addition, the event also included the participation of adolescents living with HIV and adolescents who work for HIV prevention – including one young person living with HIV who stated, “We used to hide to die, but now we are going out in the open to live!”, signaling the positive change of the times as the fight against HIV moves towards the universalization of prevention, treatment and care. The adolescents were joined by representatives of federal and state governments, civil society and UN agencies, including: UNICEF and UNFPA, as well as PAHO and the UNAIDS Secretariat. UNICEF Brazil supported the organization of this highly visible mobilization event, and was represented by Nils Kastberg, UNICEF Regional Director for Latin America and the Caribbean, and by Marie-Pierre Poirier, UNICEF Representative in Brazil. The ceremony also featured the singing of a local children’s choir.

© UNICEF Brazil/2007

HIV/AIDS Data for Brazil – As of June 2007:  The 2007 Brazilian AIDS Epidemiological Bulletin Update shows that between 1980 and June 2007, 474,273 AIDS cases were reported in Brazil: 289,074 in the South East, 89,250 in the South, 53,089 in the North East, 26,757 in the Mid West and 16,103 in the North. In Brazil as a whole and in the South, South East and Mid West regions, AIDS incidence is tending towards stabilization. In the North and North East there is a tendency towards growth. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), Brazil has a concentrated epidemic, with an HIV infection prevalence rate of 0.6% in the 15 to 49 age group.

In 2006, based on preliminary data, 32,628 AIDS cases were reported, confirming a trend towards a drop in the number of cases. This trend was first observed in 2002, when 38,816 cases were reported. In 2002 the AIDS incidence rate was 22.2 cases per 100,000 inhabitants. In 2005, the rate was 19.5 per 100,000, and in 2006, it was 17.5 per 100,000. In addition, there is also a clear trend toward the feminization of the epidemic in Brazil. Among adults, there are now 1.5 men for every woman with AIDS. Twenty years ago, the ratio was 25 men for every woman.  Among adolescents and young people, however, the trend is now inversed with 1.5 girls for every boy with AIDS.

For the first time, the 2007 Brazilian AIDS Update provides data on the percentage of people who are still alive up to five years after diagnosis. The study is based on the number of people identified as having the disease in the year 2000. The data indicates that 5 years after diagnosis, 90% of people living with AIDS in South East Brazil are still alive. In the country’s other regions the percentages were: North, 78%; Mid West, 80%; North East, 81%; South, 82%, indicating regional differences in access to health services & treatment.

For further information
Kent Page, kpage@unicef.org, UNICEF Brazil


UNICEF is on the ground in over 150 countries and territories to help children survive and thrive, from early childhood through adolescence.  The world’s largest provider of vaccines for developing countries, UNICEF supports child health and nutrition, good water and sanitation, quality basic education for all boys and girls, and the protection of children from violence, exploitation, and AIDS.  UNICEF is funded entirely by the voluntary contributions of individuals, businesses, foundations and governments.





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