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Sandra Brea, Brazil's First HIV+
Female Celebrity, Dies

By Ernest Barteldes

Rio de Janeiro, Brazil--She was the female sex symbol of the Seventies in Brazil. Not only was she a beautiful woman, but her outrageous behavior coupled with an obvious sincerity, dazzled many in her time.

Seven years ago, moved by her sincerity, she revealed that she was HIV-positive at a time when many other contemporary artists were struggling to conceal such news about themselves. She became the first female Brazilian celebrity to make such an announcement.

Sandra Brea's career began as an actress in the late Sixties. She soon landed several important roles on Brazilian TV and in the theater.

It was after a breakthrough appearance in the dramatic play Liberdade para as Borboletas (Liberty for Butterflies), in which she appeared wearing two-piece underwear (for the time, she might as well have been naked) that she reached stardom on Globo TV's first full color soap opera, 1973's O Bem Amado (The Well-Loved), written by the late Dias Gomes, in which she had an important part as the main character's daughter.

During the Eighties, she led a full career appearing in numerous TV shows and performing in theatrical settings and made-for-TV musicals. Her last TV performance took place in 1992 in the soap Felicidade (Happiness).

A year later, she was diagnosed HIV-positive and became a strong voice in AIDS advocacy. Globo TV kept her on its payroll and she participated of numerous awareness campaigns on television and in the printed press until her health began, more recently, to deteriorate.

In a recent interview, she stated that "AIDS is a drag. It is too persistent". In addition, she had also been diagnosed with pulmonary cancer last December.

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Sandra Brea died last Thursday, aged 47, at her home in Rio de Janeiro. Her body was buried Friday morning. She leaves a son, whom she adopted in 1981 as well as millions of grieving fans.

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