Memories of an Epidemic

Part 2: Groups in Solidarity

“The so-called AIDS epidemic, not because of itself, but because of what was said and invented about it, wanted to make love a political articulation and death an obscene metric. It wanted to translate the heart as a bodily organ and enact citizenship as a moral spirit on which the curtains that isolate the stage of tragedy can easily be drawn down as a simple neutral space for human action. The possible eternity is the transmission of the brightness of each human actor to what happens onstage: this act of transmission is what we call SOLIDARITY.”

 Herbert Daniel

The Museum of Sexual Diversity - MDS, an institution linked to the Secretaria of Cultura and Economia Criativa of the State of São Paulo, managed by the Amigos da Arte Social Organization, receives the exhibition Memories of an Epidemic: Collectives in Solidarity.

Since the beginning of the epidemic, when AIDS began to take shape in the pages of newspapers and magazines, three characteristics of the disease have gained prominence: its contagious nature, its apparent incurability and its fatal outcome. These characteristics, associated with moral discourses, became a language for the construction of metaphors of prejudice and discrimination, linking notions of disease, contamination, dirt and sexual perversion and relating the idea of ​​contagion to transgression.

At the same time, the contagious AIDS metaphor was also potent for resistance groups against the epidemic. Displaced from the stigmatizing discourse, contagion became an expression of relationships, encounters and affective exchanges for the construction of the importance of life and of living it fully. In addition to sharing the mourning of the loss of life, they were in solidarity actions and I live in communities where it was possible to experience AIDS collectively.

From the creation of the Aids Prevention Support Group in São Paulo in 1985 to contemporary groups, the ethical-affective-political horizon of solidarity was the basis for the construction of groups and networks. In constant dialogue with academia and public policies, organized civil society produced various expressions, gathering around different identities and banners. This plurality was fundamental to the response to the epidemic and remains a learning experience today.

Matheus Emílio Pereira da Silva e Remom Matheus Bortolozzi

Grupo de Apoio à Prevenção à Aids (2021-08) by Bruno O. e Uno VulpoMuseu da Diversidade Sexual

Created in January 1985, the AIDS Prevention Support Group – GAPA São Paulo was the first organization created to fight the AIDS epidemic, with the founding act registered in a notary's office on April 27 of that year.

After the request of leaders of the Homosexual Movement to the São Paulo State Health Department in 1983 and the construction of joint actions, periodic meetings were held at the Health Institute, where GAPA/SP was created.

Although it was especially headed by homosexuals, GAPA/SP focuses on more universal actions, having as its horizon the citizenship and rights of people with the disease, like : training for prevention, peer education, safe sex workshops, advocacy, home care, etc.

A criação dos GAPAs (2021-08) by Bruno O. e Uno VulpoMuseu da Diversidade Sexual

GAPA/SP´s experience was pioneering and successful, having inspired and accompanied the creation of an entire network throughout Brazil. In just a few years, around 21 GAPAs were created from the north to the south of the country.

Associação Brasileira Interdisciplinar de AIDS (2021-08) by Bruno O. e Uno VulpoMuseu da Diversidade Sexual

The Associação Brasileira de Estudos Interdisciplinares de AIDS – ABIA was also the result of a process of meetings that took place in Rio de Janeiro between 1985 and 1986 that brought together professionals and activists from different areas. Its status was registered on April 10, 1987.

The meetings were held at the initiative of anthropologist Herbert de Souza (Betinho) and physician Walter Almeida, who had a special concern for the hemophiliac community in Rio de Janeiro and were inspired by the American initiative International Interdisciplinary AIDS Foundation.

ABIA was built as a critical observatory of the social determinants of the epidemic and of political responses and collective mobilizations, being an important articulator and mobilizer of organized civil society. 

Pela Vidda (2021-08) by Bruno O. e Uno VulpoMuseu da Diversidade Sexual

Pela Vidda Rio de Janeiro was founded in March 1989 by the then president of ABIA Herbert Daniel and three months later, when traveling to São Paulo, it created the São Paulo headquarters together with professor and activist Jorge Beloqui.

With the motto “Viva a Vida”, the organization pioneered the formation of a specific group for people living and living with HIV, in the radical criticism of the isolation of positive people due to the stigma defending integration.

Among the various actions, the conversation circles and mutual help groups between positive people and the manifestations demanding treatment and prevention for all deserve to be highlighted.

O Grupo de Incentivo à Vida (2021-08) by Bruno O. e Uno VulpoMuseu da Diversidade Sexual

Founded in 1990, the Grupo de Incentivo à Vida – GIV, headquartered in São Paulo, was an initiative of psychologist José Roberto Peruzzo in conjunction with the group of HIV-positive people who used to meet at the then “Emílio Ribas II” where CRT/Aids is now located.

GIV pioneered not only being an exclusive group of positive people, but also having its management fully composed of people living with HIV.

Reverberações do I Encontro Brasileiro de ONG/Aids (2021-08) by Bruno O. e Uno VulpoMuseu da Diversidade Sexual

After the Montreal Conference, the 1st Brazilian Meeting of NGOs/AIDS was organized in July 1989 in Belo Horizonte. It was at this event that the Brazilian NGO/AIDS network was formed.

In October of the same year, the second meeting was held in Porto Alegre, where a charter of the network's constitutional principles and the “Declaration of the fundamental rights of people with the AIDS virus” were approved.

A importância da educação de pares (2021-08) by Bruno O. e Uno VulpoMuseu da Diversidade Sexual

Several groups of the Brazilian homosexual movement not only dialogued and participated in the formation of NGOs/AIDS, but were also protagonists in the prevention and care of people with AIDS, specifically homosexuals.

The importance of peer education was an especially important space for welcoming and debating sexual identity and orientation, a concept that began to be disseminated and defended by the movement in the mid-1980s, when the AIDS epidemic broke out.

Coletivos Lésbicos (2021-08) by Bruno O. e Uno VulpoMuseu da Diversidade Sexual

Lesbian collectives such as Um Outro Olhar or the Grupo Lesbico da Bahia also found space in the debate on the AIDS epidemic to produce and provide guidance on the sexuality and sexual health of women who love women.

O povo do candomblé e o Boletim Quimbanda-Dudu (2021-08) by Bruno O. e Uno VulpoMuseu da Diversidade Sexual

Another important group in the production of specific prevention was the Candomblé people, who also found in the debate on the epidemic a fruitful space for production on the health of the black population.

Within the Quimbanda-Dudu Bulletin produced by a collective of black homosexuals, the debate on AIDS enabled reflections based on this intersectionality.

Brenda Lee e o Palácio das Princesas (2021-08) by Bruno O. e Uno VulpoMuseu da Diversidade Sexual

With the dream of forming a travesti union, Brenda Lee opened in 1985 the “Castelo das Bruxas”, a pension in the Bexiga region of São Paulo, where around 32 travestis used to live.

In 1986, after a shooting attack on several residents of her pension which culminated in a march to end violence against travestis, Brenda in an interview affirmed that she would continue taking care of her residents, even if they had paralysis or AIDS.

Upon reading this article, Otília Simões, then Emílio Ribas's social worker, got in touch with Brenda and with the support of Paulo Teixeira, the pension progressively became the Casa de Apoio Brenda Lee, remembered today as the “Palácio das Princesas”. 

Organização de coletivos de travestis (2021-08) by Bruno O. e Uno VulpoMuseu da Diversidade Sexual

Like Brenda's pioneering action, the movement against AIDS was fruitful for the organization of travestis groups.

Astral (Associação de Travestis e Liberados) were founded in Rio de Janeiro in 1992, was general travesti group.

Tulipas (Travestis, Transformistas, Unidos Lutando Incansavelmente pela Informação e Prevenção a AIDS) of Santo André in 1994, was founded by Adriana and worked specifically with AIDS.

Encontro Nacional de Travestis e Liberados que trabalham com aids (2021-08) by Bruno O. e Uno VulpoMuseu da Diversidade Sexual

Parallel to the solidarity network meetings, homosexual groups have also started to hold events about AIDS. The 1st Encontro de Gays e Lésbicas que trabalham com aids took place in January 1995, in Curitiba.

Despite its name, the event counted on the organized movement of travestis who managed to approve in this meeting the adhesion of the category in the name of subsequent meetings.

The event preceded the VIII Encontro Brasileiro de Gays e Lésbicas, which had the participation of 84 activist groups and culminated both in the formation of the Associação Brasileira de Gays, Lésbicas e Travestis  (ABGLT).

In a pioneering way, there was also a march in the streets of the center of the capital of Paraná, prior to the pride parades, which mixed the banners of the fight against AIDS and the defense of the rights of gays, lesbians and travestis.

Os coletivos e a realização de eventos sobre aids (2021-08) by Bruno O. e Uno VulpoMuseu da Diversidade Sexual

In 1992, the travestis groups started to organize the Encontro Nacional de Travestis e Liberados que trabalham com Aids – ENTLAIDS, which was fundamental for the debate on citizenship and rights of this group.

A Rede Nacional de pessoas vivendo com HIV/Aids (2021-08) by Bruno O. e Uno VulpoMuseu da Diversidade Sexual

With the formation of specific groups for people living with HIV, such as Pela Vidda and GIV, meetings of positive people began to be held in the early 1990s.

In 1995, during the V Encontro Nacional de pessoas vivendo com HIV e AIDS, in Rio de Janeiro, the network of people living with HIV/AIDS (RNP+) was created. The following year, in São Paulo, the network's charter of principles was created.

Progressively, in addition to RNP+, other identity groups have emerged, such as the National Movement of Positive Citizens and the National Network of Adolescents and Young People Living with HIV/AIDS.

A diversidade de coletivos, redes e organizações de luta (2021-08) by Bruno O. e Uno VulpoMuseu da Diversidade Sexual

The diversity of groups, networks and other organizations that make up and integrate today what we recognize as the Movement to Fight AIDS is wide.

In addition to public services and university research centers, the AIDS News Agency, Forums, community networks, AIDS pastoral, women's groups, youth groups, among many others so important for these four decades of fight.

Fórum Ongs Aids (2021-08) by Bruno O. e Uno VulpoMuseu da Diversidade Sexual

Reinvenções da solidariedade dos coletivos (2021-08) by Bruno O. e Uno VulpoMuseu da Diversidade Sexual

The solidarity of groups in the fight against AIDS remains present and visible. We see in acts and manifestations the presence and protagonism of various groups, from those that emerged in the 1980s to others that emerged over these forty years.

These groups have reinvented themselves, updated their practices and communication for the contemporary and, inspired by solidarity and human rights, seek to recognize the challenges of the present.

Ampliando o movimento de Luta contra a aids (2021-08) by Bruno O. e Uno VulpoMuseu da Diversidade Sexual

At the same time, in the last decade, new groups have emerged with alternative models and not in the institutionalized format of NGOs, expanding the Movement for the Fight against AIDS.

Between new and old collectives, the power of encounter, affection, construction, citizenship, valuing life and solidarity remain as the axes that allow us to live and live with HIV and AIDS in the community.

They make up positive collectives that denounce and create art from the experience with new medicines, parties that perform and celebrate the positive black bodies, LGBT collectives debates about new biomedical technologies in the combined prevention.


“Memories of an Epidemic”: Part 2: Collectives in Solidarity





Assistant Secretary

Creative Economy Coordinator

Amigos da Arte
Social Organization of Culture

General Director

Financial Administrative Director

Art and Culture Director


Franco Reinaudo

Ellen Nicolau, Gabriela Augusta da Silva Oliveira, Leonardo Stephens Domingues and Rodrigo Alcântara da Silva

Leonardo Arouca

Marisis Pacheco

Tatto Oliveira

Kiko Azevedo Ana Curti, Bruna Provazi, Caio Polesi, Emílio Rogê, Juliana Ferraz Augusto, Rafael Akio 

Pridea Communication 
Pevi Communication

Credits: Story

Matheus Emílio Pereira da Silva e Remom Matheus Bortolozzi

Bruno O. e Uno Vulpo

Acervo Bajubá e APOLGBT-SP

Associação Brasileira Interdisciplinar de AIDS (ABIA), Arquivo Edgard Leurenroth (AEL), Alberto Alexandre Schmitz II, Amanda Marques, André Mota, Andrea Paula Ferreira, Casa 1, CEDOC Luiz Mott, Eduardo Luiz Barbosa, Grupo de Incentivo à Vida - GIV, Grupo Pela Vidda RJ, Grupo Pela Vidda SP,  GAPA - SP, Marcio Villard, Liandro Lindner, Marcos Tolentino, Ricardo Tomio Akiyama, Thais Azevedo, Vera Paiva.

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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