USAID project to improve HIV/AIDS services in the Democratic Republic of Congo

November 17, 2009 by PATH

Contact: Amy MacIver, PATH, 206.788.2021,

PATH-led consortium will apply innovative and sustainable approaches to enhance prevention, care, and treatment

Seattle, November 17, 2009—PATH and its project partners have been awarded a five-year contract to improve HIV/AIDS services in the Democratic Republic of Congo. The African nation is home to an estimated 1 million people living with HIV/AIDS.

The PATH-led consortium will receive up to $45 million in project funding from the US Agency for International Development (USAID). With a start date of October 1, 2009, the contract falls under the agency’s AIDS Support and Technical Resources program, known as AIDSTAR.

“This new project is a comprehensive and integrated response to the devastation caused by HIV/AIDS in the Democratic Republic of Congo,” said Julie Pulerwitz, ScD, director of the HIV/AIDS and Tuberculosis Program at PATH. “It will not only improve prevention, care, and treatment services in the short term but also strengthen the long-term capacity of local communities and health systems to meet the nation’s overwhelming needs.”

Addressing multifaceted problems

Decades of conflict, with high rates of sexual violence against women, have contributed to high rates of infection in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Other contributing factors include lack of HIV counseling and testing sites, poor availability of condoms in many areas, and high levels of untreated sexually transmitted infections among sex workers and their clients. About 3 percent of adults live with HIV, transmitted mainly by heterosexual contact.

Children are particularly vulnerable. They can be infected through mother-to-child transmission and can also be affected by the loss of one or more parents to AIDS. An estimated 120,000 children less than 15 years old have HIV in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Implementing an integrated set of activities

The new project focuses on reducing transmission of HIV/AIDS among vulnerable groups such as sex workers and their clients, truckers, miners, and military personnel. It also helps to alleviate the impact of the disease on people living with HIV/AIDS and their families.

“We are particularly excited about this project’s use of the successful Champion Communities model,” said Kathryn Bacon Goldman, a project director with Chemonics, an international development consulting firm leading several aspects of the work. “This model empowers local communities to develop their own strategies for mitigating the impact of AIDS and supports positive engagement with people living with HIV/AIDS and those most at risk.”

Project activities include:

  • Enhancing HIV counseling and testing services and addressing issues of stigma.
  • Strengthening community engagement in developing and implementing cost-effective and successful prevention strategies.
  • Increasing access to comprehensive services to prevent mother-to-child transmission of HIV.
  • Improving care, support, and treatment for people living with HIV/AIDS, orphans and vulnerable children, and their families.
  • Strengthening local health systems and building the capacity of local health staff.

PATH’s primary partners for the project are Chemonics International, Catholic Relief Services, the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation, and the International HIV/AIDS Alliance.