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For a long time, Brazil’s health care system was seen as a model for fighting HIV. But the number of infections is rising again, with the growing conservatism in society partly to blame, according to experts.

The Brazilian state has guaranteed treatment for HIV patients free of charge in public hospitals since 1996. The state health care system, SUS, offers access to free medications for more than half a million patients. A success story.

Statistics from the Brazilian Health Ministry show the median life expectancy after infection, which in 1996 was five years, has risen to 12 years.

For a long time, the rate of new infections remained more or less stable, and in some risk groups, the number even dropped temporarily. The Health Ministry estimates that around 866,000 Brazilians are currently HIV-positive.

However, a UNAIDS study found that the number of new infections has recently started to rise again. UNAIDS, founded in 1994, is the United Nations program to reduce HIV/AIDS.

In 2010, 44,000 new infections were registered in Brazil. In 2018 this had already risen to 53,000, an increase of around 21% — considerably higher than the average increase of 7% in Latin America overall during this period.

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