On January 10, Ministry of Health’s AIDS and STIs Federal Agency Director Adele Benzaken was exonerated from office, under Bolsonaro’s administration since the 1st. Dr. Benzaken replaced Fábio Mesquita in 2016 when he filed his resignation after the coup on former President Dilma Rousseff. Adele’s exoneration was not welcomed by CSOs and grassroots who feel she was responsible for investing in a varied range of responses to the HIV/AIDS epidemic, such as the introduction of PrEP, in a time of an alarming number of infections despite a conservative government under Temer’s administration. The prospects under Bolsonaro are even worse since his rhetoric has been of assault on human rights, especially sexual and reproductive rights, as a political platform and since his Ministry of Health, Mandetta, has declared the HIV/AIDS policy cannot “insult the family institution”.
In view of recent changes in the Ministry of Health’s Department of Surveillance, Prevention and Control of STIs, HIV and Viral Hepatitis of the Ministry of Health, ABIA wishes to express concerns regarding the sustainability STIs and HIV/AIDS control policies.
It is ABIA’s hope
The right to prevention of all citizens be guaranteed, irrespective of the type of family, sexual orientation, race/color, gender, religion, generation, residence area or socioeconomic situation, with special attention to those who face greater vulnerability to HIV/AIDS, such as prostitutes, homeless persons, incarcerated persons and even drug users.
The promotion of combination prevention is maintained, including the offer and use of condoms, PrEP and PEP prophylaxis, as well as facing up to stigma and respect of human rights.
That continuity and expansion of access to pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) and condoms should be universal for all who need it.
The permanence and expansion of access, aiming universality, to pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) treatment and condoms.
We emphasize our expectation of maintaining educational campaigns, created within the human rights framework, especially respectful of sexual and social diversity and in connection with their specific target audiences’ language and aesthetics, promoting human rights principles and based on scientific evidence.
In the treatment dimension, we expect innovations remain welcome, with the inclusion of new and modern drugs and other necessary inputs for the treatment of AIDS, STIs, tuberculosis and viral hepatitis.
Universality must remain as the basic principle of treatment programs under the National Public Health System (SUS).
We expect HIV/AIDS public response departments and services continue to receive resources proportionate to the current and potential grave impact on the Brazilian population.
Given Brazil’s current epidemic landscape, we disagree on any budget cuts on public policies organizations funding. This is the same for CSO’s, whose public funding is essential to guaranteeing their fundamental participation in responding and controlling the Brazilian epidemic.
Finally, we recognize Dr. Adele Benzaken’s work as Director of Ministry of Health’s Department of Surveillance, Prevention and Control of STIs, HIV and Viral Hepatitis as fundamental for the maintenance and sustainability of HIV/AIDS and STIs policy and we hope the progress made in her mandate be maintained and expanded in the coming years.
ABIA is the organization that coordinates the Working Group on Intellectual Property – GTPI and under which Sexuality Policy Watch (SPW) is associated.
Image: Dr. Benzaken receives CSOs Joint Letter during the 2018 World AIDS Congress.