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Revista Brasileira de Epidemiologia

Print version ISSN 1415-790XOn-line version ISSN 1980-5497

Rev. bras. epidemiol. vol.18  supl.1 São Paulo Sept. 2015 


Global targets, local epidemics: the ultimate challenge for AIDS in Brazil?

Ricardo KuchenbeckerI 

Alexandre GrangeiroII 

Maria Amélia VerasIII 

ISchool of Medicine, Universidade Federal do Rio Grande do Sul - Porto Alegre (RS), Brazil.

IIDepartment of Preventive Medicine, School of Medicine, Universidade de São Paulo - São Paulo (SP), Brazil.

IIIDepartment of Social Medicine, School of Medical Sciences at Santa Casa de São Paulo - São Paulo (SP), Brazil.

Antiretroviral therapy has enabled unprecedented advances in the fight against the acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS) epidemic. The United Nations says it is possible to eradicate it if more than 90% people living with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)/AIDS know their diagnosis and are successfully under treatment1. This scenario implies, however, in ensuring universal access to testing and treatment of the disease, and getting continued adherence to drug therapy, coupled with strategies aimed at behavioral changes, reduction of sexually transmitted diseases, and use of all the existing prevention methods, which include pre- and postexposure antiretroviral prophylaxis, male and female condoms, and seroadaptive practices. More than ever, global targets depend on a locally combined and coordinated response.

Three decades later, AIDS is an urban epidemic in Brazil, focusing on metropolitan areas of large cities such as Belém, Recife, Rio de Janeiro, Florianópolis, and Porto Alegre2. Although in recent years epidemiological studies on AIDS have been conducted nationwide, they do not always gather information that can adequately be applied to the State or Regional levels. This becomes more relevant in the case of Rio Grande do Sul and Amazonas, States with higher than average incidence rates of AIDS cases. The absence of this information on regional/local levels prevents proper characterization of the respective epidemiological settings, "masking" distinct epidemics, such as in Porto Alegre, for example, that might no longer be considered "concentrated," starting to be characterized as "generalized" or "mixed."

Knowing the different contexts of local and regional AIDS epidemics in Brazil is asine qua non, not only to achieve global targets, but - mostly - to identify priority populations who can best benefit from behavioral and biomedical interventions that make up the various strategies that have been proposed, such as "test and treat," "treatment as prevention" and "combination prevention." A better understanding of the epidemic requires a recognition of the structural features that underlie the pathway of transmission and increases the vulnerability of social groups to HIV. Facing these issues has been associated with improved response to behavioral interventions and reduction in the incidence of HIV3.

Thus, there is an urgent need for epidemiological studies to characterize the temporal and geographical aspects of local epidemics and behaviors that determine HIV transmission4 in the regions most affected by AIDS in the country. Each region requires a unique set of coping strategies. The response to the epidemic in high-density populations, such as those in metropolitan areas, challenges the responsiveness of municipal spheres and sometimes demands better links with all levels of government and nongovernmental agencies, as already happens in some states. As we strive to eradicate the AIDS epidemic worldwide it is urgent to strengthen local responses within each community and establish a broad dialogue and mobilization of the entire society.


. Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS. 90-90-90: an ambitious treatment target to help end the AIDS epidemic. Geneve: Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS; 2014. p. 33. [ Links ]

. Brasil. Ministério da Saúde. Boletim Epidemiológico HIV/AIDS. Ano III. Brasília: Ministério da Saúde; 2014. [ Links ]

. Gupta GR, Parkhurst JO, Ogden JA, Aggleton P, Mahal A. Structural approaches to HIV prevention. The Lancet 2008; 372(9640): 764-75. [ Links ]

. Mishra S, Sgaier SK, Thompson LH, Moses S, Ramesh BM, Alary M, et al. HIV epidemic appraisals for assisting in the design of effective prevention programmes: shifting the paradigm back to basics. PLoS One 2012; 7(3): e32324. [ Links ]

Corresponding author: Ricardo Kuchenbecker. Faculdade de Medicina. Universidade Federal do Rio Grande do Sul. Prédio do Centro de Pesquisa Clínica, 5º Andar, Sala 21.507, Rua Ramiro Barcelos, 2.350, CEP: 90035-903, Porto Alegre, RS, Brasil. E-mail:

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