Brazilians depend on a combination of local, state and national
government programs to deliver treatments that keep many of them
relatively healthy. These programs have inspired AIDS activists
looking for possible solutions for other developing countries.
federal government is responsible for buying and distributing
antiretroviral drugs, such as those that make up the "triple
cocktail" credited with prolonging many lives. Also, the
Brazilian Ministry of Health sets guidelines for treating those
with HIV according to decisions made by advisory committees that
meet annually. States and municipalities are responsible for treating
the opportunistic infections that often plague those with full-blown
produce 12 of the antiretroviral drugs the Ministry of Health
distributes, while the ministry purchases the remaining drugs.
Supplies of some domestically produced drugs are sometimes augmented
with purchases from pharmaceutical companies that lowered their
prices and won government contracts.
Typically, patients receive antiretroviral drugs
from one of the country's HIV/AIDS outpatient services centers,
which also offer counseling services. As of March 2002, there
were 381 of these outpatient centers in Brazil.
ministry's National STD and AIDS Program has a computerized system
that handles the logistics of distributing drugs and is being
used in the largest outpatient service centers. That system, which
in 2001 covered about 65 percent of those receiving the drugs,
maintains a nationwide patient register and uses cards resembling
credit cards, which are issued to patients to certify their antiretroviral
prescriptions. This system checks for prescription errors and
notifies doctors of any mistakes.
Aside from access to antiretroviral drugs, assistance
to those with HIV includes several programs administered by states
and municipalities. These include care in a patient's own home
and access to centers where they can receive medical care during
the day. The system cuts down on the number of patients admitted
to hospital, thus saving the government money.
providing treatment for HIV/AIDS, the Brazilian government since
1988 has guaranteed free overall health coverage for all citizens.
Brazil's Systema Único de Saúde, or SUS, is a decentralized
public health system that gives local governments much of responsibility
for managing their own health services. While the system is publicly
funded, private non-profit and for-profit organizations provide
many of its services.
-- By Karyn
Schwartz, Online NewsHour