Brasilien: Lair Guerra de Macedo

I worked non-stop to free Brazilians of Aids.

— Lair Guerra de Macedo

Lair Guerra de Macedo (1943), infectologist and university professor, architected the National STD/Aids Program of the Brazilian Ministry of Health. In 1986, she began “the work of her life” with only a tiny office and one secretary. She faced the resistance of the State's and the Pharmaceutical Industry's bureaucracy, until a car accident shattered this warrior's sword. Today, with severe consequences, Lair is thinking of writing a book about “the heroic years of the fight against Aids.”

In 1986, Aids was collecting lives. It had unpleasant names such as: modern cancer, gay plague, disease of the drug abusers and promiscuous. The Brazilian Government vacillated in the fight against this pandemic. The World Bank was pessimistic; it estimated that Aids would infect Brazilians at a rhythm of 35% a year. But then, Lair Guerra stepped in. Born in the state of Piauí, mother of five children, this infectologist took on the challenge of organizing a governmental response to the disease. “In the beginning we did not have any money or equipments. We lacked people prepared for the job.” She crossed the country to attract the attention of and to qualify health agents. She promoted partnerships with NGOs dedicated to the prevention of HIV and to the defense of people living with HIV/Aids. She insisted that blood banks be inspected. She participated in the great outcry for the generalization of health rights that had its high point with the Constitution of 1988. This document states that “health is the right of all citizens. It is the State's obligation to provide it.” After that, she worked tirelessly to universally provide the treatment of Aids. Currently, the State, among other actions, distributes the anti-retroviral medication. The country has around 364,000 people infected with the virus. To Lair Guerra de Macedo, science exists to promote quality of life. In 1996, while leaving a lecture, a bus drove straight into the car she was in. Having suffered cranial traumatism, she spent two months in a coma. She was left with many severe consequences. But she was still alive. In spite of the difficulties, she gives lectures when she is invited to do so and intends to write a book regarding her experience in the National STD/Aids Program.