By Philippe Kituka Lolonga
May 12, 2023 | BUKAVU, Congo (UM News)
In the Democratic Republic of the Congo, initiatives developed by The United Methodist Church aim to offer a positive future to people living with HIV and AIDS.
With funding from the United Methodist Board of Global Ministries’ Global Health program, the church supports more than 100 women living with HIV in Bukavu in the Kivu Conference in eastern Congo. The program also is helping women in Central Congo.
According to Dr. Jimmy Kasongo, medical director of United Methodist Irambo Health Center in Bukavu, the effort is part of the church’s Maternal and Child Health Program in East Congo.
“We help women living with HIV with transportation every week to pick up medicines at Panzi Hospital, which is 10 kilometers (6.2 miles) from Irambo Health Center, where many of these women live,” he said.
According to the National Multisectoral Program for the Fight against AIDS, more than 20,000 people are living with HIV in South Kivu, and the situation is worsening daily. “We need to sensitize the population to get tested to know their HIV status in order to save lives,” Kasongo said.
Exacerbating the problem is the location of the North and South Kivu provinces on the borders with other countries and the violence against women by men in uniform.
The United Methodist Church also provides psychological support to people living with HIV. Through counseling, they gain better understanding of their HIV status, Kasongo said.