As Brazil continues
its fight to contain the HIV epidemic and treat those who are
already infected, the nation is also facing larger economic and
persistent problem for Brazil has been its debilitating poverty
and the limited opportunities available for those in its grip.
Brazil's general economic productivity means it can be considered
a middle-income country. But according to The Economist magazine,
that industrious exterior belies its internal problems because
of its extreme imbalance in wealth distribution.
"Its glaringly unequal income distribution,"
The Economist explained in a February 2003 issue, "means
that the poorest 50 percent account for 10 percent of national
income -- and so do the richest one percent."
Brazil's gross domestic product in 2002 was an
estimated $452 billion total and $2,600 per capita, according
to The Economist. The United States, Brazil's largest trading
partner, had a GDP of $10.5 trillion total and $36,400 per capita.
Argentina, Brazil's northern neighbor and second largest trading
partner had a 2002 total GDP of $102 billion and $2,700 per capita.
The inequality in wealth and educational opportunities
has added to the Brazilian government's challenges as it administers
its HIV treatment and prevention programs. While some 48 percent
of Brazil's young people used a condom the first time they had
sex, that number rose to 71 percent among those with higher levels
of education according to a Durex study released in 1999. As in
most nations, more educational opportunities in Brazil are available
to those with higher incomes. In 2000, the United Nations Development
Program reported that more than 90 percent of the poorest four-fifths
of the Brazilian population did not attend secondary school, and
practically none made it to universities.
also makes containing HIV a daunting task. At 3,290,000 square
miles, Brazil is larger than the continental United States. However,
according to Dr. Artur Kalichman, coordinator of the STD and AIDS
programs for the São Paulo Health Department, Brazil has
been able to keep HIV from spreading rapidly in rural areas as
it has in Africa.