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Rate of new HIV infections declines by 50 %, Rwanda owes it to new initiatives

Rwanda Ministry of Health has announced that the rate of new HIV infections has declined by 50 per cent, owing the success to new initiatives. The yielding interventions include; “the treat all HIV+, Free condom kiosks and Voluntary counselling and testing initiatives.

When it was launched in June 2016, the treat all HIV+ initiative started a journey of immediately providing Anti-retroviral (ARVs) drugs to patients after testing HIV positive. In the past, only patients in the later stages of the infection were put on ARV therapy.

“ The most important control areas for the HIV epidemic in Rwanda include anti-retroviral treatment as the first one and probably the most important tool to support in fighting stigma, bring about  behaviourial change, prevent  mother-to-child transmission and ensure blood safety,” says  Dr Sabin Nsanzimana the Head of HIV, STI and other Blood Borne Infections Division at Rwanda Bio-medical Center.

On the other hand, free condom kiosks placed in high risk areas in Kigali city, helped control the spread of HIV.

“The kiosks ensure condom accessibility 24 hours daily to members of the community, individuals can pick free condoms and educational materials on safer sex practices,” says Dr. Placidie Umugwaneza, in charge of HIV prevention  at Rwanda Biomedical Centre.

Voluntary counselling and testing is also an initiative credited for great outcomes in terms of treatment, care and prevention of HIV/AIDS in Rwanda. Sites have been placed in strategic places to entice people from their busy working routine into testing.

Rwanda has made significant progress in the fight against HIV/AIDS generally with the rate of mother to child transmission rate at 18 months reducing to less than 2 per cent.

Rwanda’s HIV/AIDs prevalence rate among the general population aged 15-49 has been at 3.0 per cent for the past decade.

And as Rwanda joins in the global celebrations of World Aids Day, the country has intensified HIV/AIDS prevention initiatives some more by launching yearlong awareness campaigns and activities about the epidemic.

“If it was not for a committed health sector and a committed government, HIV/AIDs would be affecting most of us in the worst way. I have been and I am still getting free ARVs for the past 11 years and I am grateful, I can at least take care of my children and I am in good health,” says Scovia Mbabazi, 38 year old HIV positive mother.