The inclusion of women in society, with greater participation in science and politics, has been possible thanks to a set of factors that have led countries to begin to include in their legislation several fundamental rights for women.
To celebrate the importance of female characters in science and in realizing rights, the AIDS News Agency pays tribute to women who have played a fundamental role in advancing the fight against AIDS, researchers Lair Guerra and Gabriela Calazans and activist Credileuda Azevedo.
Action recorded in history
Lair Guerra de Macedo was born in Piauí in 1943. He attended primary school in the city of Curimatá and studied biomedical sciences at the University of Pernambuco. He married in 1962 and had five children.
In 1977 he began teaching microbiology at the University of Piauí and managing the university laboratory. Then, after obtaining a scholarship from the Pan American Health Organization, he moved to the city of Atlanta, Georgia (USA), with his family. In Atlanta, she was a visiting scholar in sexually transmitted diseases at the Center for Disease Control. At the same time, he is studying for a master’s degree in microbiology at Georgia State University, while supporting the first research on the HIV virus at the CDC.
After six years in Georgia, she returned to Brazil, where she first worked as a professor at the University of Brasilia. She was invited to launch the Brazilian STD/AIDS program in 1986. She was director of this program for 10 years, after having worked with ten ministers. During this period, he obtained resources from the World Bank, with which he qualified and trained many professionals to fight against STDs/AIDS.
Lair also established referral centers for patient treatment, encouraged the establishment and maintenance of non-governmental organizations, and initiated the AIDS vaccine testing program. Represented Brazil at three meetings of the World Health Assembly in Geneva.
In August 1996, she was attending a congress in Recife when she had a car accident. He suffered a head trauma and fell into a coma, leaving him with after-effects, such as slurred speech and gaps in recent memory.
In 2010, at an event where she was honored by the São Paulo AIDS Prevention Support Group (GAPA) with the 3rd Paulo Cesar Bonfim Award, Lair received a standing ovation from the audience during the ceremony at Edifício Itália in São Paulo.
The fight for the health of women living with HIV
“It was August 1993. My sister thought she was suffering from anemia and I decided to do a battery of tests with her. Everything for her was sickness. When I got my test, there it was: positive. This is how Credileuda Costa de Azevedo discovered she had HIV, when she was 24 years old. Creuda, as she is known throughout the town of Horizonte, 50 km from Fortaleza, was lucky enough to be treated by “Doctor Lurdinha”, the social worker who referred her for treatment. “I had access to information at a time when everyone said that a person with AIDS had only three months to live”.
And Creuda lived for a special reason. The son of 3 years and 4 months at the time. “I took him for the exam. It was negative. It is the cycle of life. People are born, grow, die. And I know that one day I’m going to die, I don’t know what, but as long as I live, I’ll take care of him.
The second marriage brought another challenge. A second daughter and the fear of transmitting the virus to the child. In 2017, the little girl turned 21, HIV-negative. Today, Creuda is the grandmother of two grandchildren. Married, she lives in a serodiscordant relationship. When he met her, Creuda’s husband already knew about HIV. “It’s just that in town, anyone who knows who Creuda is knows she has HIV,” she explains.
Today, she is part of the National Movement of Positive Citizens and seeks, on a daily basis, to help HIV-positive women to be welcomed and to have guaranteed access to care.
Science as a working tool
Gabriela Calazans is part of the research team of
In one of her most recent studies, she addressed the rise of the HIV epidemic among gay men and other men who have sex with men (MSM) and how this reveals the limitations or failures of prevention policies aimed at this group.
In 2021, Gabriela acted in the editorial coordination of the policy brief (policy brief) “Redoing HIV prevention in the 5th decade of the HIV and AIDS epidemic”.
She worked as a community educator at the HIV Vaccine Research Unit of the STD/AIDS Reference and Training Center (CRT) in São Paulo, and in 2010 she received the Citizenship Award from the HIV Preventive Vaccine Research Network, an entity affiliated with the US National Institutes of Health.
Also at the CRT, Gabriela coordinated volunteer recruitment actions for studies, in addition to collaborating with cultural actions such as Cine Vacinas and the Reporter Vacinas newsletter. In addition, the researcher also participated as an activist in the Life Incentive Group (GIV).
Credileuda de Azevedo