The needAlice Fay, Save the Children on the key drivers of HIV amongst women in Africa
One of the major challenges in DRC today is that many individuals still don't have a basic understanding of what HIV is and how it is transmitted, let alone methods of protection. This lack of understanding has exacerbated stigma and discrimination, resulting in individuals being reluctant to get tested or treated. Confidentiality concerns can also prevent access to treatment; individuals with HIV may fear that their personal information will be leaked and subsequent community rejection. And then, of course, there are practical barriers related to geography and infrastructure. Even when someone wants to get tested, having to travel long distances in an area where there is a lack of roads makes actually doing so a challenge in itself.
Sexual violence among both men and women is also a significant and growing problem in this region, which contributes to the local epidemic. The survivors of sexual violence are a key risk group that requires focused attention. Gender based violence is known to be one of the key drivers of HIV in the DRC, although the precise extent of the problem is not known due to low levels of reporting. Importantly, men can also be forgotten survivors of sexual violence – young boys recruited into the military and criminal gangs are particularly vulnerable.
Our partnership with the Positive Action for Children Fund has allowed us to implement a number of initiatives around preventing mother to child transmission, the goals of which are to...
- Increase HIV awareness among communities in order to reduce stigma and discrimination.
- Engage with communities to provide support for orphans and children affected by HIV.
- Increase the number of people who employ HIV prevention and protection measures.