Brazil’s national AIDS movement – comprised of networks, collectives, CSOs and activists – repudiates Decree N. 9795 (read in Portuguese), released on May 20th, 2019, that establishes a new structure for the Ministry of Health. As result, the former Department of STIs, Aids and Viral Hepatitis is now named the “Department of Chronical Illnesses and Sexually Transmitted Diseases”.
This is not just a name change: it is the end of Brazil’s Program on HIV/Aids. Materially, the government unacceptably and irresponsibly extinguishes one of the world’s most important HIV/Aids programs, considered an international reference in the response to the epidemic. Not just that, this decree goes against the historical democratic governance model based on wide social and intersetorial participation. As an evidence of the authoritarian character of this measure, this change and its possible impact were not announced and discussed during the meetings of the National Commission on STIs, HIV/Aids and Viral Hepatitis (CNAIDS) and the National Commission on Articulation with Social Movements (CAMS), a month ago.
Brazil’s HIV/Aids Department has been an international reference in the fight against HIV/Aids due to its unique articulation with civil society, whether in conflict or collaboration, the bold decision to offer free and universal access to ARVs through the public health system and the strong prevention campaigns, responsible for promoting the Brazilian response across international forums and inspiring developing countries in similar strategies.
The symbolic effect of having a government structure dedicated to HIV/Aids is to highlight the political importance of the fight against the epidemic in all its dimensions. Arguments might deny things will change, but it is clear that we are moving towards neglect over a disease that still kills around 12 thousand people in Brazil every year and that is far from being controlled. Instead, it keeps growing whilst especially among populations who suffer from poverty and stigma, and who have been historically marginalized. This decree makes those people even more invisible and disrespected.
Our response, however, has not been built overnight. It has been a daily effort for the past three decades of people living with HIV/Aids, LGBTs, black, women, trans, youth and activists. We cannot accept a ruling that extinguishes the Brazilian program and that is part of a wider tactic to erase diverse forms of existence deployed by Bolsonaro’s government. For purposely failing to understand the potency and complexity of life, Bolsonaro aims to kill marginalized populations symbolically and materially.
Against this politic of death, we shout HAIL LIFE! We will not be silenced in the face of the end of a department that has helped to save thousands of lives. For the maintenance of the Department of AIDS! Not one right less!
National Articulation Against Aids – Anaids
Brazilian Interdisciplinary Association of Aids – ABIA
Forum of AIDS NGOs/São Paulo – FOAESP
Support Group for the Prevention of Aids/Rio Grande do Sul – GAPA/RS
Group for the Incentive of Life – GIV
National Network of Persons Living with HIV and Aids – RNP+Brasil
National Network of Persons Living with HIV and Aids + Sol Araraquara/São Paulo – RNP+Sol Araraquara
Project Bem Me Quer
Humanitarian Group for the Incentive of Life – Ribeirão Preto/SP – GHIV