Children and adolescents
living with HIV/AIDS in one of the poorest region of Brazil
I. Dourado1, L.F.S. Kerr2, M.T.G. Galvão2, D. da Silva1, S. Cavalcante2, C. Kendall3
1Federal University of Bahia, Instituto de Saúde Coletiva, Salvador, Brazil, 2Federal University of Ceara, Departamento de Saúde Comunitária, Fortaleza, Brazil, 3Tulane University School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine, New Orleans, United States
Background: We studied children and adolescents living with HIV/AIDS, and/or have current or dead
parents living with HIV/AIDS.
Methods: A cross-sectional study was conducted in Salvador and Fortaleza, Northeast Brazil, one of the poorest regions in the
country. The parents of children less than 13 years old and adolescents 13-19
years old were interviewed at the main HIV reference center in both cities and
at two NGOs in Salvador
from September 2008 - March 2009.
Results: The parents of 716 children
(n= 372 boys and n=344 girls) were interviewed. Among the children, the mean
age was 7.5 years, 22% were infected with HIV, 13.3% had no father and 6.4% had
no mother. Furthermore, 20.7% did not
complete the years of schooling consistent with their age, and 67% received Bolsa Família, the main cash transfer
program to poor families of the Brazilian Government. Forty one adolescents
(n=15 boys and n=26 girls) were interviewed.
Among adolescents, 50% were infected with HIV, 30% had no father and 18%
had no mother. More than three times the
number of adolescents did not complete the years of schooling consistent with
their age (68%). Early sexual debut (69% before age 15) was common for both
boys and girls. In both children (59%) and adolescents (74%), the absence of
fathers in the families was high. In addition, most families were poor (90% earned 222 USD or less
a month) and the head of the household had low levels of education (54% had 4
years or less of education).
While children are currently benefiting from programs such as Bolsa Familia, access
for adolescents is limited. This study
provides evidence to show that such programs should be extended beyond children,
emphasize and evaluate education, to mediate the burden of HIV/AIDS in the
Northeast of Brazil.
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