Friday September 7, 2001

Brazil Targets Older People in Anti-AIDS Program



SAO PAULO, Brazil (Reuters) - Brazil's health ministry said on Thursday it is stepping up efforts to prevent the spread of AIDS among older people with education campaigns and the distribution of condoms.

The ministry decided to address AIDS and HIV among Brazil's older generations after statistics showed that the disease is spreading among Brazilians over the age of 50.

``We are going to places where the elderly go, like meeting places, tourism agencies, dances and community centers to provide prevention information and male and female condoms,'' Denise Doneda, the head of prevention at Brazil's AIDS program, told Reuters.

Although the elderly represent only a fraction of the 210,000 registered AIDS cases in Brazil with 15,263 cases, infection rates are on the rise, studies show.

The incidence of AIDS in Brazilians between 60 and 69 years more than doubled to 19 cases in every 100,000 individuals in 1998, from 7 in 100,000 inhabitants in 1990. Even bigger was the increase in infection of Brazilians aged 50 to 59, Doneda said. In 1998, 40 in every 100,000 individuals in this age group had AIDS, up from 15 in 1990.

Brazil's AIDS program has become a model for developing countries. The government has kept the rate of HIV infection to less than 1% of the population with aggressive prevention programs and has cut the number of AIDS deaths in half with a free drug distribution program.