By Elias Hakizimana.
Rwanda has prioritized condom use as a safer tool in curbing the trend in new HIV/AIDS infection increase among the key populations who are predisposed to this epidemic and pledged to consistently increasing efforts to mobilize people use this preservative to protect a future generation.
The key population consists of Female Sex Workers (FSWs), men having sex with men (MSM), Lesbians, and clients of FSWs.
On Wednesday September 12, 2018, anti-HIV players from Rwanda NGO Forum on HIV/AIDS and Health Promotion (RNGOF) in partnership with Aids Healthcare Foundation (AHF-Rwanda) and the Ministry of Health/RBC discussed further ways to protect these vulnerable populations against new infection and prevent them from spreading the epidemic to the rest of the community.
The theme of the discussions was “Reduction of new HIV infection through Promotion of Condom distribution and use among Key Populations and their Clients”
Dr Sabin Nzanzimana, the Head of HIV/AIDS Division at Rwanda Biomedical Center (RBC) said that a condom will play a vital role to have a free HIV infection among the new born.
Nsanzimana said this while complementing the recently inaugurated initiative on Monday, dubbed “Free to shine campaign” by Mrs Jeannette Kagame.
He said that catering for the key populations is the country’s responsibility to reduce new HIV infection.
In Rwanda, HIV prevalence remains at 3 percent, which means that approximately between 250 and 300 people are infected.
In Kigali, this number is double and the key population counts for 6.3 percent.
Women aged between 40-45 years old are at 8%, young girls of over 19 years who are HIV infected are over rated to the boys of their age according to Dr.Nsanzimana.
“We want to focus on key populations in our strategic plan 2018-2013 by mobilizing condom use, we will continue to disseminate them where we are sure they will be used and safely, this initiative started in condom kiosks that are available in various hotspots countrywide,” said Dr Nsanzimana.
He urged NGO forum and their partners to focus on initiatives that gave positive results so far and try create new ones.
Since 2001, newborn with HIV infection were at 10 percent and drastically reduced to 4 percent and 2% in 2015, and 1.5% in 2018. This achievement, according to Dr. Nsanzimana, was a result of mobilizing pregnant women to have adequate tests before giving birth.
“On last Monday, we took decision to be under 1%, it requires a strong partnership than ever.” He said.
The female sex workers are infected at 46%, and can spread the infection to their newborn at over 3 percent.
Newborn we got last years were from FSWs, today it was our priority to come here, “RWANDA NGO forum and AHF tell us the aid you need so that we all together reduce newbporn HIV infection.
For prostitutes’ clients, Nsanzimana said 10 to 15 % of men are clients of FSWs and can also be predisposed to HIV infection as key populations.
The research done in 2014 among 13,000 people countrywide shown that two people in a household are infected.
In Rwanda, every year, 20million condoms are distributed, 15 million in shops, others distributed to people by Community Health Workers.
Nsanzimana said that there is a significant progress toward achieving the UNAIDS ‘90-90-90 targets’, which aims at diagnosing 90 per cent of all HIV positive people, providing antiretroviral therapy (ART) for 90 per cent of those diagnosed and achieving viral suppression for 90 per cent of those treated, by 2020.
Dr Brenda Asiimwe Kateera, AHF-Rwanda Country Director said “We will continuously partner with the Ministry of Health and the government of Rwanda to ensure that we curb HIV prevalence. This is the one of our ways to reduce HIV in promoting condom use.”
“I want everyone to really think about what tangible ways we are going to use country wide to reduce this epidemic, show the gaps, challenges and propose solutions because we want to promote combination of HIV prevention through testing, information giving, etc., and we need to give a combined message and focus on the different areas to ensure that we combat HIV comprehensively,” said Kateera.
Leo Pierre Rusanganwa, the Board Member in RNGO Forum said they will continue gather efforts together through their respective 127 NGOs and help the government to end HIV.
Ms Noliet Kabanayana, the Executive secretary, of Rwanda NGOs Forum on HIV/AIDS and Health Promotion said that Efforts to reduce new HIV infections will be stepped up through condom promotion among key populations (FSW,MSM); young women and Adolescent girls
The meeting came up with clear recommendations for all stakeholders and partners to promote condom distribution, Availability, Accessibility and Use among key and priority populations including FSW, MSM, Young Women and Adolescent girls.
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