In commemoration of World AIDS Day 2011, an AIDSLink Brazil team drove over four hours, through the heavy Sao Paulo traffic to give an AIDS awareness workshop at a centre for the rehabilitation of drug users and sex-workers.
It was very timely, the previous day health workers had tested everyone there for HIV. Amazingly all tested negative. The information and stories the team shared were designed to help them stay that way.
One of the residents told us how much she appreciated getting correct information and being able to ask questions. She thought that because she had had surgery to prevent having anymore children she was no longer at risk of contracting HIV. Others questions ranged from basic information such as if it is safe to drink from the same cup as someone with HIV to more complex questions about treatment and the life-span of someone living with HIV.
A real turning point in the workshop was when one of the team told his story about living with HIV, how he got his HIV+ diagnosis, the effect on his life, and how his faith has helped him to turn his situation around into a positive lifestyle.
The latest statistics show that in spite of the government's pro-active response to HIV, every day, in the city of Sao Paulo, nine people die and a further six give up on treatment.
There remains much for the team to do.