Brothers and sisters
Today we commemorate World AIDS Day with campaigns around the globe, promoting awareness on this serious epidemic that effects millions of people on all continents.
In Brazil, 12,000 people die every year from AIDS. It is a serious public health issue which sadly has increased in the last years. These indicators need to be addressed through more effective public health policies.
It is a challenge that needs to be addressed with more audacity and increased investment in the public health sector, so more of the low-income population can access its services. Another concern is the trivialization the churches have brought to the issue. In the 1980's and 1990's the ecumenical movement was critical to dismantle the stigmatization of people living with HIV/AIDS. This same movement was essential for the implementation of prevention programs and educational awareness campaigns.
While government agencies were implementing prevention initiatives, the more conservative sectors boycotted them. This practice reverted any progress already made, especially in the less informed groups.
There was an increase in cases even in what were considered low-risk groups. We urge that the churches resume their involvement through education to their congregations. We urge the government to improve the quality of public health services prioritizing the care of those infected. We cannot allow prevention and treatment to become banal. We cannot allow the gravity of this to become inconsequential.
This is a public health issue and we all have to demand multidisciplinary programs that reduce the embarrassing indicators that we have today in Brazil. The government and society, including the churches, need to work together to avoid the invisibility of a problem that causes many deaths due to negligence and prejudice.
Primate of Brazil