Walker DA, Johnson KL, Thomas TB, Dorgo S, Moore JS (2019) Overcoming Barriers to Improve HIV Education and Public Health Outcomes in the Democratic Republic of Congo. J Fam Med Dis Prev 5:100.


© 2019 Walker DA. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

RESEARCH ARTICLE | OPEN ACCESS DOI: 10.23937/2469-5793/1510100

Overcoming Barriers to Improve HIV Education and Public Health Outcomes in the Democratic Republic of Congo

Danielle A Walker1,2, Kyle L Johnson3,4, Tara B Thomas5, Sandor Dorgo1,6 and Jacen S Moore1,7*

1College of Health Sciences, University of Texas at El Paso, USA

2Heart for the World International, USA

3Department of Biological Sciences, College of Science, University of Texas at El Paso, USA

4Border Biomedical Research Center, University of Texas at El Paso, USA

5HIV, STD, and Viral Hepatitis Program, Division of Infectious Disease, USA

6Department of Kinesiology, University of Texas at El Paso, USA

7College of Health Sciences, University of Texas at El Paso, USA



Approximately 37 million people worldwide are infected with the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV), with the majority located in sub-Saharan Africa. The relationship existing between HIV incidence and socioeconomic inequity confirms the critical need for programs promoting HIV education, prevention and treatment access. This literature review analyzed 36 sources with a specific focus on the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), whose critically low socioeconomic status and education rate have resulted in a drastically high HIV rates. Relationships between HIV testing and treatment and barriers to care were explored.


Literature searches were conducted in multiple databases including the Cumulative Index to Nursing and Allied Health Literature (CINAHL), Academic Search Complete, and the U.S. National Library of Medicine through the National Institutes of Health (Medline/PubMed). The search terms were structured to include all text of each article rather than restricting the search to titles or keywords. While these search criteria resulted in identification of 36 peer-reviewed articles, the inclusion criteria (HIV prevention, community education, HIV knowledge and stigma) led to the exclusion of all except 17 articles. Their findings are described here.


Cultural and religious considerations were found to be vital when creating and implementing HIV education and testing programs. Partnerships encouraging active support from community-based spiritual leaders to implement HIV educational programs were also key mechanisms to reach communities and individuals. Gender roles were highlighted as a key component for implementation of effective community trust-building and successful HIV education programs. The efficacy of added support by hospitals and clinics in rural areas to facilitate access to HIV testing and care for people living with HIV/AIDS (PLWHA) was discussed.


We highlighted the need for health care providers to provide a network of continued education for PLWHA in clinical settings during disclosure and throughout the course of treatment to increase retention in care and promote medication adherence for viral load suppression. Implementation of culturally-sensitive models that rely on community familiarity with HIV educators such as train-the-trainer were also proposed as efficacious tools for educating rural communities about HIV.