In April I spent three weeks in Eastern DRC. The first part of the trip I spent documenting both the effects and prevention of HIV/AIDS. We looked at how to prevent the transmission of HIV from mother to child and from sexual violence, as well as how to care for children living with the virus. I had the privilege of getting to know some of the bravest people I have ever met, facing obstacles too enormous and complex to understand as an outsider. I was welcomed into their lives and stories and given a glimpse of this additional consequence of war and what is being done to overcome it.
// The transmission of HIV/AIDS can be prevented from mother to child. Justine participated in a program run by Global Strategies implemented through Heal Africa and was able to prevent the transmission of the virus to her child who is now HIV negative.
// Kubou and her child, now HIV negative because of the program she participated in. The medicine necessary is quite reasonable, it is a matter of getting this medicine and training into the rural communities.
// Waiting for help at a rural clinic in Ishasha, North Kivu.
// Anastasia is a survivor of sexual violence. DRC has the highest rates of sexual violence in the world, rape being called a tool of war, with the ripples of this violence extending into all areas of societal life. Anastasia is HIV negative because of the post exposure prophylaxis she received and says that if she had contracted the virus, the stigma would have been too great to bear.
// On the road to Kiwanja, North Kivu.
// Lake Kivu shimmers.
// At one point, DRC hosted the largest UN mission in the world with over 18,000 peacekeepers. Today the UN is scaling back their mission with an exit plan in mind. The impact of both their presence in the DRC and their pending exit is widely debated.