Capital hosts international Aids conference

Lisbon will host an international conference on Aids next May, which will focus attention on the illness in Portuguese-speaking countries.

Health Minister, Luís Filipe Pereira, says the conference “will ensure that people do not forget the importance of international and multilateral co-operation” in the fight against Aids. Three per cent of Portuguese infected by the Aids virus are adolescents, numbers which continue to preoccupy doctors even though there are signs that young people are heeding warnings aboust safe sex.

“There are no target groups in particular, but prevention must start at school and then continue into adult life and old age. Support and education in schools is vital,” says Lino Rosado, President of the Portuguese Association for the Clinical Study of Aids.

Mota Miranda, from the Service of Infectious Illnesses at Porto’s São João Hospital, says that Aids used to be seen as exclusive to homosexuals, haemophiliacs and drug addicts. Today, however, the perspective is very different. “There is no such thing as an exempted group,” he says. “For this reason, we cannot make distinctions.”

Another cause of concern is the number of pregnant women who have Aids, currently between four and five in every thousand. Some areas of the country, principally Lisbon, have a higher incidence than others. This number, slightly higher than in the United States or other western countries, causes particular worry because it leads to infected babies.

• ‘More condoms for schools’ – see facing page.