Children Living on the Streets of Brazil: Drug Use, Crime, Violence, and HIV Risks

The presence of vast numbers of unsupervised and unprotected children is a phenomenon that is common throughout Latin America, and in few places are the street children more visible, and reviled, than in Brazil.  Accounts of drug abuse among street youths in Brazil are commonplace. Numerous scientific studies and media stories have reported the widespread use of inhalants, marijuana and cocaine, and Valium among street children. Also common is the use of coca paste and Rohypnol. Risk of exposure to HIV is rapidly becoming an area of concern because of the large number of street youths engaging in unprotected sexual acts, both renumerated and non-renumerated. Moreover, Brazil's street children are targets of fear. Because of their drug use, predatory crimes, and general unacceptability on urban thoroughfares, they are frequently the targets of local vigilante groups, drug gangs, and police "death squads." 

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