HIV/AIDS prevalence 20 percent in certain regions
Tuesday 18 May 2004
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DRC: HIV/AIDS prevalence 20 percent in certain regions

KINSHASA, 5 November (PLUSNEWS) - The prevalence of HIV/AIDS in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) may have reached 20 percent in certain regions of the country, according to Dr Francois Lepira, director of the national programme against AIDS (Programme national de lutte contre le sida).

The announcement came on Monday as the country's Ministry of Health presented its new multi-sector plan to fight HIV/AIDS in what it says are some of the hardest-hit regions of the country, namely the provinces of Kasai Oriental in central Congo, Katanga in the southeast, South Kivu in the east, and Orientale in the northeast.

"The four [regions] were chosen taking into account data from the field during the recent years of war," Lepira told PlusNews. "While estimates indicate that the prevalence of HIV/AIDS is around 5 percent in most regions of the country, in the regions that have been targeted, the rate is as high as 20 percent."

He said the new multi-sectoral plan would strive to consolidate efforts to raise awareness of the disease, to reinforce blood transfusion safety, and to improve diagnosis and treatment efforts of HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases.

The programme would also focus on efforts to prevent mother-to-child transmission of the disease and the use of antiretrovirals for its treatment, Lepira added.

Dr Pierre Somse, UNAIDS country coordinator for the DRC, called the project a "major initiative".

"It has identified major axes of intervention, which include the provision of antiretroviral medications, integration of the education sector into the fight, public awareness-raising through micro-projects to be implemented by NGOs and religious groups, and improved organisation of coordination efforts," he said.

In the past year, he added, the programme had succeeded in reaching between 10 percent and 40 percent of transfusion centre operations, thereby preventing the contamination of some 7,000 people with HIV. Somse also said that if donors gave greater support efforts could be extended to all regions of the Congo.

"This programme should be extended to fight HIV/AIDS throughout the entirety of the Congo, with careful attention to including not only the health sector, of course, but also the political sector," he said.

The effort is part of the World Bank's Multi-Country Aids Program (MAP) [for further information on MAP, go to www.worldbank.org]. Last year, the Bank allocated eight million dollars for the DRC's efforts to fight HIV/AIDS, from a larger grant of US $50 million intended to revive the country's devastated economy.

[ENDS]

Recent DRC Reports

Help victims of sexual violence among expelled Congolese, OCHA says, 28/Apr/04
Government, University of North Carolina sign technical agreement, 14/Apr/04
US official in pledge for more aid to combat HIV/AIDS, 16/Mar/04
Focus on rampant rape, despite end of war, 8/Mar/04
Country Profile, 27/Jan/04

Links

The Global Fund to fight AIDS, Tuberculosis & Malaria
International Community of Women Living with HIV/AIDS
AEGIS
The Global Fund to fight AIDS, Tuberculosis & Malaria
International HIV/AIDS Alliance

PlusNews does not take responsibility for info in links supplied.

PARTNERS

PlusNews is produced under the banner of RHAIN, the Southern African Regional HIV/AIDS Information Network. RHAIN's members currently include:

  • UNAIDS

  • IRIN

  • Inter Press Service (IPS)

  • SAfAIDS

  • PANOS

  • Health Systems Trust

  • Health & Development
    Network

  • GTZ/Afronets


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