There are close to 2 million adults and children living with HIV in Latin America, and another 300,000 in the Caribbean (UNAIDS, 2005b). Brazil accounts for half of the to­tal HIV cases in Latin America. Typically this is due to IV drug use and unsafe sex prac­tices between both heterosexual and homosexual couples. Men who have sex with men have the highest levels of HIV infection, followed by female sex workers (UNAIDS, 2005b). There is some indication that safer sex practices, including increased condom use, are increasing in these areas.

The Brazilian government can afford to treat AIDS and pay for the expensive ther­apy because it manufactures generic copies of the expensive drugs. This is possible be­cause many drugs (including many antiretroviral drugs) are not patented in countries outside the United States. As a result, these countries can make their own copies of the drugs or import generics (T. Rosenberg, 2001).

Healthcare workers in Brazil are working hard to teach AIDS patients how to use antiretroviral therapy and the importance of taking the pills on time. This has been a tremendous additional weight on the shoulders of healthcare professionals, many of whom are already working overtime.