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Campaign success in the Democratic Republic of Congo

Child looks up at her father in DR Congo, both are HIV positiveIn recent years there have been significant gains in the fight against HIV, particularly in access to treatment.  Christian Aid and its partners campaign to raise awareness of HIV and access to antiretroviral drugs.

In 2003 only 500,000 people worldwide were receiving life-saving antiretroviral treatment whereas today there are five million. 

DR Congo HIV campaign

In Democratic Republic of Congo, the Christian Aid-supported CAHAC campaign led to the introduction of a law protecting the rights of people living with HIV and extended access to life-saving ARV medication to some of the country's poorest people.

Listen: CAHAC campaign

Christian Aid communications officer Ally Carnwath tells us about the CAHAC campaign in DR Congo - the amazing difference it has made and our challenges for the future. Listen to his podcast (3mins 40secs): 


The campaign

Starting in 2005, Community Action against HIV/AIDS in the Congo, organised a range of awareness-raising activities, including the country's biggest ever HIV demonstration, which saw 10,000 AIDS activists take to the streets for simultaneous marches across all 11 of the country's provinces.

Activists remember it as a joyous occasion, in which crowds of people, dressed in white, waved banners and danced in the roads in defiance of their illness.

During the march in Kinshasa, marchers were received by the Congolese Prime Minister and the Head of Parliament. The event received coverage across the national media - an unprecedented achievement in a country where HIV-related stigma remains widespread. 

Getting results

This mass show of solidarity was rewarded soon afterwards, when parliament passed a law which had been blocked for months, criminalising HIV-related discrimination, such as the practice of obligatory HIV testing by prospective employers, and upholding the principle of universal access to ARV drugs.

Finance for ARV treatment remains a problem but thanks to CAHAC's pressure on the government to make HIV a funding priority, the number of people under ARV treatment has risen from 4,000 to 32,000 in the past five years. Around a third of these receive their medication from Christian Aid partner AMOCONGO, whose health centres operate in the Congo's poorest communities.

And thanks to the sense of solidarity engendered by the CAHAC campaign, the HIV community works together more effectively. A permanent group of national and international NGOs has now been established, which represents the needs and concerns of people living with HIV before the government and speaks with a more powerful voice than the Congo‚Äôs disparate group of HIV organisations working could manage before.  


More about Christian Aid's work on HIV

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