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Community hospital in CAR offers hope to HIV patients

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Central African Republic

A community hospital in the Central African Republic's capital, Bangui, is offering hope to HIV patients at an advanced stage of the disease.

Supported by the charity Doctors Without Borders (MSF), Bangui's community hospital has 68 beds and a further 15 for intensive care.

Around 110,000 people are affected by HIV but lack of free testing means that many are unaccounted for.

"This is one of the only countries where there is no free HIV testing so patients learn of their HIV status very late when they are already in an acute condition, and there are people who come to the hospital here because they know it's one of the only places where there is free advanced HIV care" explained MSF doctor Jennifer Stella. 

"Our mortality rate is between 10 and 15% which is not bad, frankly, given the severity of the conditions in which our patients arrive, we have patients who die the same day or sometimes within a few hours of arriving at the emergency room", concluded the doctor working at the community hospital. 

For many, this community hospital is a lifeline. In the capital, the rate of infection is twice the national average.

"I was extremely tired and exhausted, when I arrived at the hospital I had no appetite or strength but now the tiredness is starting to disappear and the appetite is coming back. I feel a bit better about my body", said one HIV patient who chose not to identify himself. 

"I know that if I had not been able to come to this MSF service I could have died. Today I am in good health, I take my medicines and I can even continue my small business" added another patient.

According to the World Bank, almost 70 percent of the nation's population lives below the poverty line. 

The country has faced a near-continuous civil war since 2013.

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