Thousands of AIDS Victims Face Death in Congo

Posted January 25th, 2012 at 1:05 pm (UTC-5)
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A medical aid group has warned that up to 15,000 AIDS victims in Democratic Republic of Congo could die in the next three years because of difficulty getting life-saving drugs.

The warning comes from Doctors Without Borders, which says access to health care for HIV and AIDS patients in Congo is “horrific.” It says 85 percent of an estimated 350,000 people who could benefit from antiretroviral drugs are not receiving them.

The group's medical coordinator in Congo, Anja De Weggheleire, says many of these victims will die in silence and neglect and she says many don't even know they are infected.

Doctors Without Borders blames the DRC's government for not giving enough attention to fighting AIDS and says many donor organizations like the Global Fund, a leading supplier of ARV drugs, have been reducing activities in Congo for financial reasons.

The organization, in a statement released Wednesday, urges donors to mobilize resources and calls on Congo's government to meet its commitment to provide free treatment to people living with HIV and AIDS.

Doctors Without Borders says right now only one percent of pregnant Congolese women infected with HIV have access to drugs that could prevent them from passing the virus to their babies.

Doctors say many people arrive at hospitals in Congo with advanced stages of illness and complications that could have been easily prevented with treatment by ARV drugs.

The DRC is still recovering from years of civil war and parts of the east remain virtual war zones where rebel groups clash with the government and each other.