The City of Kigali in partnership with Ministry of Health through Rwanda Biomedical Center, this Tuesday conducted a one day workshop involving various stakeholders in health to raise awareness on the need to combat HIV/AIDS especially guarding against fresh infections.
Kigali city is ranked to have the highest HIV prevalence rates compared to other regions in the country. 7 percent of Kigali dwellers are HIV positive, a rate higher than the 2 percent rate in rural Rwanda and national prevalence rate of 3 percent.
The workshop aimed to create awareness on the need to sustainably combat the killer infection emphasizing on the need to up strategies in Kigali.
HIV/AIDS prevalence in Kigali city is exacerbated by prostitutes.
According to Dr. Agnes Binagwaho, the Minister of Health who was the guest speaker at the workshop, estimates show that 60 percent of the city’s prostitute population is HIV positive.
She noted that HIV should be seen as a general challenge to socioeconomic development, one that everyone should contribute to combat.
In efforts to reduce prostitution in the city, campaigns to woo prostitutes into forming cooperatives so as to receive support to engage in commercial activities have been initiated.
Dr Sabin NSANZIMANA, who is charged with fighting HIV in RBC offered that by discouraging prostitution by engaging prostitutes in other income generating activities, Rwanda makes a step in the right direction to reduce new HIV infections.
“For instance in the past 10 years, fresh HIV infections reduced by 48 percent, while the government targets to further this to at least 75 percent by 2018. We have a five years long campaign running since last year, to ensure that we meet this set goal.
The campaign is expected to cost the government over US$1 billion, which will be used in preventing fresh infections, and catering for those already living with HIV.
To materialize the intended results, RBC works closely with Rwanda National Police to spread the word of prevention especially to the youth sensitizing them to protect against incidences that may lead to contamination.
“Police helps in educating people particularly youth concerning sexual violence and on fighting against drug abuse, all which instances may get them involved into unprotected sex,” NSANZIMANA further explained.
With cooperation from the general populace, Nsanzimana says there is hope that new HIV infections will be fully dealt away with and eventually help uproot AIDS.