By The Inspirer writer.
HIV prevalence in Nyagatare district is higher at 6.1% while the whole country’s HIV prevalence remains at 3 percent among adults aged 15-49 years (4 percent among women and 2 percent among men) as per the Rwanda Demographic and Health Survey (RDHS) 2014-15.
This pushed a community based youth led organization Afro Ark, in Partnership with UNAIDS and Rwanda Biomedical Centre (RBC) to organize a Stakeholders meeting that was held in Nyagatare District on November 5, 2019 with the subject to end HIV/AIDS among Key Population.
The meeting was a good opportunity for AFRO ARK to launch partnership initiative with Nyagatare District where the organization will start its activities to help residents access to healthcare services in order to reduce HIV prevalence among the key populations.
The Key population is identified as people who are exposed to HIV/AIDS, and these include Female Sex Workers (FSW) and Men having sex with men (MSM).
This stakeholders meeting gathered together various people including local authorities, law enforcers including police and migration officers, Health providers including nurses and community health workers at the District and sector levels.
Afro-Ark as the main partner will be implementing this initiative by linking up healthcare providers and residents in accessing healthcare services easily.
The HIV/AIDS high prevalence in Nyagatare is due to the fact that female sex workers still face challenges in making protected sex.
Fidele Mutoni, an Expert in Laws and Human Rights said that one of the reasons of high prevalence of HIV/AID among female sex workers is that they are still discriminated by the community and especially in rural areas where they fear requesting for condoms from shops.
Citizens revealed that some among the female sex are reluctant to buy condoms because of people who look on them and start talking on them. They wish that stakeholders can vail kiosk condoms in rural areas as they did in Kigali city.
Key decision makers and stakeholders at the district and sector levels brainstormed on appropriate methods of ending HIV/AIDS through Prevention of new HIV infections and treatment of People living with HIV (PLHIV). They suggested that security officials should cater for health of female sex workers when they are detained and help them access to healthcare services and get drugs.
Patience Iribagiza, Executive Director of AFRO ARK that caters for rights of key population said that the initiative was launched in Nyagatare District, Matimba sector as the area marked high prevalence of HIV/AIDS among the key population.
“As AFRO ARK, we are going to assess the reason why people do not like to be tested for HIV/AIDS and after revealing the existing gaps we will contribute in reducing new infections and deaths.” Iribagiza noted.
Francine Rubaduka, a nurse at Matimba Health Center who caters for people living with HIV/AIDS (PLHIV) said that the high prevalence is this sector is due to its geographical state.
“Matimba sector is much populated and many people comes there from neighbouring sectors and others are from Uganda. They all come to work from the area and this fact increases unprotected sex.” She said.
Elie Kamanzi, Director of Health in Nyagatare District said that the district has established some measures to reduce this burden through teaching the youths on Sexual Reproductive Health and consequences that comes after making unprotected sex.
However, he said that another issue that make youth to be lured into sexuality is misunderstanding among families.
“When parents do not cater for a child, she can be lured into such temptations of sexuality and get unwanted pregnancy and HIV/AIDS. Kamanzi noted.
Nyagatare district is much populated among all the other districts of Rwanda with 465,855 people who, among them 228,325 are men and 237,530 are women as per recent figures by the National Institute of Statistics of Rwanda (NISR) 2012.
By October 2019, the district registered over 6,293 people who have HIV/AIDS while there is a big number of people who are not yet tested.
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