January 27, 2012
Just 15 percent of people with AIDS in the Democratic Republic of Congo have access to antiretroviral therapy (ARVs), according to a new DWB report. DWB said donor nations reneging on pledges to the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB and Malaria -- the country's leading supplier of ARVs -- has led the fund to sharply reduce support. In addition, DRC's government has not made free ARVs a priority, the report said.
DWB was the first organization to provide free ARVs in Congo, in 2003, and today treats more than 10 percent of DRC patients on ARVs, including 20 percent of those on therapy in Kinshasa. However, only 44,000 of the estimated 350,000 people in DRC with AIDS who need ARVs receive them. Some 15,000 people waiting for ARVs likely will die in the next three years, DWB said.
The pullback of donor support for the Global Fund "is directly threatening the lives of thousands of people in DRC," DWB said. Only 1 percent of HIV-positive pregnant women have access to ARVs to protect their babies from the virus; as a result, about one-third of those infants exposed to HIV will be infected, the report said.
"What I'm seeing in DRC has not existed elsewhere for years," said Anja De Weggheleire, the DWB medical coordinator for the nation. "The situation here reminds me of the time before any antiretroviral treatment was available."