The HIV epidemic in DRC is considered generalized, with a nationwide prevalence of about 1.3%. Nationally, women continue to be more at risk than men, with a prevalence reaching 4.4% among women 40−44 years old; for men, the highest prevalence reaches 1.8% in the 35−39 years age group. Women at greatest risk are those who are most educated (3.2%), have higher incomes (2.3%), and are widowed (9.3%). The expansion of the HIV epidemic is further aggravated by economic and food insecurity especially given the continuous episodes of unrest. Production of major staple crops, in particular cassava, has not kept up with population growth and food stocks are currently extremely low. The HIV infection reduces work capacity and agricultural production. Decreased income and food production affect access to and biological use of food, which in turn lowers immune status and increases vulnerability to infections. HIV can cause or worsen food insecurity, especially for orphans and vulnerable children (OVC). This situation is even more acute given that a national system of social protection does not exist in the DRC and social services are extremely weak. As a result the Government of DRC issued a National Plan of Action for OVC Living in the DRC 2010-2014 which recognizes the need to mobilize community and family support to fill this gap and ensure that basic social services, including nutrition and economic strengthening, are set in place for at least 15% of OVC by 2014.
Read more about LIFT II’s activities in the DRC on our resource page.