Reproductive Justice

20 de April, 2023

Zika virus and women (Vírus Zika e mulheres), 2016.

Epidemiological surveillance describes numbers and cases. In Brazil, until March 12, 2016 (Epidemiological Week 10), there were 6,480 suspected cases, 1,349 discarded and 863 confirmed cases of microcephaly or other alterations suggesting congenital infection caused by the Zika virus. In 97 cases, the presence of the virus was confirmed by specific tests. Epidemiological terminology makes us forget that these cases were preceded by women who were affected by the Zika virus — casting these women aside cannot be justified by the biopolitics of diseases. Simply mentioning numbers means ignoring the stories and the suffering, the anguish and the abandonment. The Zika epidemic, which involves cases of microcephaly and/or other alterations in the central nervous system associated with viral infection, affects women from a specific social class and region: poor women from Northeast Brazil. Seventy-two per cent of the babies born with the symptoms of Zika virus congenital syndrome in Brazil were born to women who live in the northeastern states of Bahia, Paraíba, Pernambuco, and Rio Grande do Norte.

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