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Sep 16, 2008
First-ever Demographic and Health Survey in DRC reveals low HIV prevalence, high fertility

Only one percent of Congolese adults are infected with HIV, reports the first ever Democratic Republic of Congo Demographic and Health Survey. National prevalence is 1.3 percent, while prevalence is almost twice as high among women as among men (1.6 and 0.9 percent, respectively). Men and women living in urban areas are twice as likely to be infected as those in rural areas.

This low prevalence is promising especially when compared to significantly higher rates in neighboring countries, such as Zambia were 16 percent of the adult population is HIV-positive. However, knowledge of HIV prevention among Congolese adults is alarmingly low; only 54 percent of women and 64 percent of men know that they can reduce their risk of infection by using a condom. Additionally, less than half of women know that AIDS cannot be transmitted by mosquitoes.

The EDS-RDC is the first national survey to use population-based testing to determine HIV prevalence. HIV prevalence estimates were determined by interviewing residents and obtaining blood samples from a nationally representative sample of Congolese adults.

Other key findings include:

  • Fertility and Family Planning: Women have an average of 6.3 children, one of the highest fertility levels in the region.  Contraceptive use in the DRC is quite low. Only 6 percent of married women are currently using a modern contraceptive method.
  • Infant mortality: Infant mortality in DRC is very high, with one child out of seven dying before reaching age five. Spacing between births can have an impact on child mortality. Infant mortality for children born less than two years after a previous birth is 215 per 1,000 live births compared to only 92 deaths per 1,000 for children born 4 or more years after a previous birth.
  • Children’s nutrition: Due in part to the high fertility levels and close birth intervals, the nutritional status of children remains a major problem. DRC has one of the highest rates of stunting among children under five in the sub-region; 46 percent are too short for their age, and therefore suffer from chronic malnutrition. In addition, almost three quarters of children are anemic.

The EDS-RDC was conducted among 8,886 households, 9,995 women age 15-49, and 4,757 men age 15-59 by the Ministry of Planning. Macro International Inc. provided technical assistance as part of the USAID-funded Demographic and Health Surveys project (MEASURE DHS). Funding for the survey was provided by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), Department for International Development (DFID), UNICEF, the U.N. Population Fund (UNFPA), the Wold Bank through the Programme National Multisectoriel de Lutte contre le Sida (PNMLS), and the Projet d’Appui à la Réhabilitation du Secteur de la Santé (PARSS).

For more information on the 2007 EDS-RDC, please contact Ministry of Planning 4155, rue des Coteaux Quartier Petit Pont Kinshasa/Gombe (BP 9378 Kin 1); email: minplan@micronet.cd