Central African Republic: Rebels Worsen Spread of HIV in CAR

Bangui — FIGHTING between rival armed groups, continued insecurity and large-scale displacement of people are blamed for the spread of HIV in the Central African Republic (CAR).

Haut Mbomou Province, bordering the equally volatile Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and South Sudan, is the worst affected, with an HIV prevalence rate of 11,9 percent compared to a national average of 4 percent.

A joint mission by the Ministry of Health, the National AIDS Council, World Health Organisation (WHO), United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and United Nations Programme on HIV and AIDS (UNAIDS) has established persistent medicine stock-outs, substandard care for people living with the condition and barriers to access to HIV and health services owing to insecurity.

Half of the health facilities in the province are closed owing to a lack of personnel or rundown facilities.

Main routes of supply are closed and violence outside the urban centres greatly limits access to medicines, food and other essentials such as condoms.

There is also the prevalence of roadblocks, insecurity and extortion by armed groups.

"Addressing these challenges is essential to show that these populations are not forgotten," Wilfrid Sylvain Nambei, Coordinator of the National AIDS Council, said.

Haut Mbomou was initially spared by the conflict that engulfed CAR in 2013 and 2014.

Since 2018, more than 47 000 people have been displaced by insecurity and violence in the area, located 1 000 km from the capital, Bangui.

This adds to a population of some 3 500 refugees from DRC and South Sudan.

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