Divine targets: youth at the centre of Catholic and Pentecostal responses to HIV and AIDS in Brazil

Cult Health Sex. 2011 Jun;13(6):657-68. doi: 10.1080/13691058.2011.565519.


This study explored the focus on youth in Catholic and Evangelical Pentecostal discussions about and responses to HIV and AIDS in Brazil. Key informant, oral history and in-depth interviews revealed a disconnect between young people's views of themselves as leaders in their religious institutions' responses to HIV and other social problems, and adult religious leaders' views of young people as vulnerable and in need of being 'saved'. Religious leaders presented young people as institutional commodities, emphasizing their symbolic value as signs of the health and future of their churches. We explore the unofficial exchange between religious institutions and young people, who benefited from the leadership opportunities and communities provided by their churches and youth groups. We discuss the political economy of youth in religious institutions' responses to HIV and AIDS within the context of Brazil's high levels of religious mobility as well as the broader, global commodification of spirituality and religion.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Anthropology, Cultural
  • Brazil
  • Catholicism*
  • HIV Infections / prevention & control*
  • Humans
  • Interviews as Topic
  • Male
  • Protestantism*
  • Religion and Sex*
  • Young Adult