Africa Asia Middle East Français Português Subscribe IRIN Site Map
Global HIV/AIDS news and analysis
Advanced search
 Thursday 09 August 2007
In-Depth Reports 
Country profiles 
Fact files 
Really Simple Syndication Feeds 
About PlusNews 
Contact PlusNews 
Print report
CONGO: Slim resources to counter rising HIV/AIDS level

Photo: Laudes Mbon/IRIN
Dolisie's teaching hospital - vandalised and pillaged during the war
DOLISIE, 27 September 2006 (PlusNews) - The Republic of Congo's official independence celebrations were held in the southwest town of Dolisie this year, highlighting an area hard-hit by the pandemic but struggling to provide HIV/AIDS services.

According to Congolese officials, the HIV prevalence rate in the town was 9.4 percent in 2003, the second highest in the nation; the national average is 4.2 percent.

"The rate in Dolisie reflects the reality on the ground. The people are very vulnerable due to the strategic geographic location of the town," said Prospère Diakabana, social director of the HIV/AIDS Support Forum for local development initiatives (FAILD).

Forestry has played a crucial role in the town, which lies in the heart of the mountainous Niari region and is known as 'the capital of green gold'. It is also one of the major towns along the railway line linking the capital, Brazzaville, to the port city of Pointe-Noire.

Niari was a stronghold of the militia close to the regime that fell in 1997, and the scene of violent fighting between these armed groups and government forces between 1998 and 1999, said Moïse Ngouaka, a resident. "The fighting was very violent in Dolisie - rape was frequent and the girls suffered as a result," the old man recalled.

The violence caused some inhabitants of the town to flee and its population fell from 80,000 before the civil war to 60,000 today.

The general hospital, with an original capacity of 250 beds, was vandalised and pillaged. Although it is undergoing reconstruction, it will not be able to receive patients before the end of the year at the earliest. In the interim, patients are referred to nearby hospitals, which are overburdened, according to health authorities.


Despite the high rate of HIV, the Niari region does not have a voluntary HIV testing centre, nor one for the distribution of antiretroviral (ARV) medicines.

HIV-positive people in Dolisie and neighbouring towns are forced to travel 140km to Pointe-Noire or to Brazzaville, the only cities in the country with facilities offering ARV treatment.

"[For the moment] people living with HIV are only benefiting from food aid [supplied by an NGO]," said Diakabana.

With little available to those already infected, local nongovernmental organisations have focused on running awareness campaigns to prevent more people from contracting the virus.

Armand Tsila, a taxi-driver in Dolisie, is now well aware of how HIV is transmitted, and is passing on the information to his passengers. "When you are in Dolisie, the least you can do is to control your sexual instincts. If not, you will risk losing your life, because there is no treatment for the illness here," he tells his clients on the way from the airport to town.

One of Tsila's uncles tested positive for HIV in 2003 in Brazzaville and died recently from an AIDS-related illness, two years after the death of his wife.


Local activists have raised concerns about the independence festivities, which were accompanied by a huge project to rehabilitate regional infrastructure for hosting the event.

The government has injected 80 billion francs CFA (US$156 million) to reach its goal of "accelerated municipalisation" in the area, and hundreds of workers have arrived in Dolisie and 14 other districts in Niari.

Commercial sex workers, like Ingrid, 25, are also arriving. "Dolisie is a treasure to us," said the young woman from Ponte-Noire, who earns at least 5,000 francs CFA (US$10) a day in a country where 70 percent of the population lives below the poverty threshold of a dollar a day.

Local AIDS groups cannot reach many of the young people and new arrivals because funding is scarce. "Nevertheless, we have managed to broadcast radio spots, and to place 5,200 condoms in about 40 hotels, so that they can be available for everyone," said Joseph Lolo, coordinator of the local government unit to fight AIDS, which is carrying out awareness campaigns in Dolisie. "We have a little more than 90 percent of individuals who are healthy, and we want them to stay that way."

Theme(s): (IRIN) Prevention - PlusNews


[This report does not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations]
Print report
 More on Congo
IRIN: Today's most popular IRIN articles
ANGOLA-BURKINA FASO: Three out of every ten babies born to HIV positive mothers will be born with the virus without PMTCT
GLOBAL: Women want a bigger piece of the funding pie
ANGOLA-BURUNDI: In sub-Saharan Africa, women and girls make up almost 60% of adults living with HIV.
GLOBAL: Global forum for women with HIV
 More on Prevention - PlusNews
SOUTH AFRICA: Government encouraged by latest HIV figures
AFRICA: Falling HIV rates tell complex story
TANZANIA: Escalating drug use threatens AIDS fight
SUDAN-UGANDA: Programmes disregard HIV among the elderly
GLOBAL: MSM still marginalised in AIDS response
Back | Home page

Services:  Africa | Asia | Middle East | Radio | Film & TV | Photo | E-mail subscription
Feedback · E-mail Webmaster · IRIN Terms & Conditions · Really Simple Syndication News Feeds · About PlusNews · Bookmark PlusNews · Donors

Copyright © IRIN 2007
This material comes to you via IRIN, the humanitarian news and analysis service of the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. The opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of the United Nations or its Member States. Republication is subject to terms and conditions as set out in the IRIN copyright page.