November #129 : Rio Bravo - by Nicole Joseph

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Table of Contents

Practicing What She Preaches

Keeping the Faith

Missionary Man

Raging Bull

Belly Flop

Dances With Dog

Stop, Go, But Proceed With Caution

Sneak Peek

Bar Exam

Thanks in Advance

Word Up!

What Gives

Team Spirit

Deal or No Deal?

Electile Dysfunction

Take as Directed

Silver Screening

Race for a Cure?

Rio Bravo

Time of the Month

That Masked Man

Reins of Terror

I’m Outta Here

Editor’s Letter-November 2006

Mailbox-November 2007

Catch of the Month-November 2007

Most Popular Lessons

The HIV Life Cycle


Herpes Simplex Virus

Syphilis & Neurosyphilis

Treatments for Opportunistic Infections (OIs)

What is AIDS & HIV?

Hepatitis & HIV

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November 2006

Rio Bravo

by Nicole Joseph

A small Brazilian ASO believes that there really is power in numbers

In a sprawling township in Rio de Janeiro housewives pour into a neighbor’s living room, gather around a table and chat the afternoon away. But any resemblance to The View ends there—the ladies also pass around condoms with their potluck snacks. These women, among the world’s more unlikely safe sex educators, live in Rocinha, Rio’s largest favela, or slum. Brazil provides free HIV care to all citizens, but the favelas house nearly a third of big-city residents, complicating treatment and prevention.

The housewives were trained by Transformarte (a Portuguese compound of “change” and “art”), an AIDS service organization (ASO) founded in 2002 to educate Brazil’s urban poor. “The situation is very serious,” says Murilo Peixoto da Mota, its executive director. “Inhabitants of the slum quarters are very vulnerable to HIV.”

Despite a staff of only five, Transformarte has been able to reach a large percentage of Rocinha’s 200,000 residents through peer inspiration. Mota has schooled a rapid reaction force of seemingly ordinary folk in the science and psychology of prevention, using a whisper-down-the-lane approach that he hopes will eventually reach into every neighborhood. Mota believes that the sharing of information is most effective from peer to peer: “Women for women, young for young.”

The organization also targets Brazil’s younger at-risk populations, teaching them about HIV through creative, arts-based approaches. Transformarte (www.transformarte has helped dancers and actors between the ages of 11 and 25 incorporate HIV-related content into theater skits and dance routines. The students perform at schools and neighborhood events, encouraging kids to protect themselves and hopefully sign on to teach other kids the following year. “The arts are a great ally in this type of intervention,” says Mota. “They provide self-esteem [and let] youth discover new talents.” Let the samba begin.

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