The Government of Rwanda has hailed the development partners support in the fight against HIV/AIDS where it has recorded significant strides. The Minister of Health Dr. Daniel M. Ngamije said that the country has recorded success in responding to HIV/AIDS in the past years and is working towards eradicating the diseases that was first reported 40 Years ago and has claimed millions of lives.
“It is in this context that we value the support from our partners in the fight against HIV/AIDS,” he said while officiating the international 33rd AIDS day commemoration in Nyagatare district.
The Minister said that every 1st December Rwanda joins the rest of the world to celebrate AIDS Day which brings about an opportunity for the government partners and the citizens to come together to reflect on HIV/AIDS and all consequences the scourge has caused.
“This year is different, due to another pandemic yet to be controlled. covid-19 is not just a stand-alone pandemic; it has affected many efforts to control other diseases like HIV/AIDS,” he added
According to Ministry of Health, 86 percent of people living with HIV know their status, 97 percent of those who know are on treatment and 90 percent of those who are on treatment have suppressed the viral load. “Eradication of HIV/AIDS is the responsibility of every person, as Rwandans and people in Rwanda,” he said adding that it is possible to eradicate the disease.
Different partners in the fight against HIV/AIDS showcased their activities in a mini exhibition during the celebrations where SFH Rwanda was able to do sensitization on reproductive health and HIV/AIDS to youth and products like condoms were distributed for free.
Dr Sabin Nzansimana, Director General of Rwanda Biomedical Centre says that Rwanda, after recording success is looking at shifting from prevention of HIV/AIDS to its eradication since it has been proven that eradicating the scourge is possible, something that saw the country celebrating the day under the theme, ‘TOGETHER WE END AIDS’.
“We decided to use this theme because now we are sure that we can end HIV. Before we have been using themes of prevention,” he said.
Peter H Vrooman US Ambassador to Rwanda said that USA has so far donated Rwf 1.6 billion in support, which was used to buy materials, to offer health services; as a result, it has helped several thousands of people.
“USA will continue to support Rwanda in the program of fighting HIV/AIDS in all the districts of the country,” he said
As a result, Vrooman says over 200,000 can access ARVs while only less than 2% of women delivering can transmit the disease their newly born babies while about 300,000 vulnerable people accessed treatment and assistance.
Alain Murasandonyi, 27 who was born with HIV/AIDS urged youths to avoid behaviours that may lead them to unsafe sex where they can acquire HIV/AIDS while also asking those that are infected to take ARVs as prescribed to lower their viral load and live longer.
“The most vital aspect is the fact that we were fortunate to get ARVs, moreover free of charge, it’s therefore crucial that we take ARVs whatsoever. Hadn’t there been ARVs, I wouldn’t be standing here,” he said to the sobbing youths.
Capitene Nizeyimana who lives with the virus says that it is important for people to know their health status, in case find have HIV/AIDS, they can start ARVs in time which reduces the risk of infecting others.
“I realized it in 2008, and it’s the reason that we are careful not to be infected with Covid-19, as well as taking measures, so as not to infect others with HIV/AIDS,” he added.
The newly elected Mayor of Nyagatare district Steven Gasana said thanked non-governmental organizations like SFH Rwanda which has helped the district in prevention of the disease especially the youth where the district has the lowest numbers in proper uptake of antiretroviral among the youths in the country.
SFH Rwanda has been at the forefront in the fight against HIV/AIDS especially among the youths where several interventions such as sensitisation and distribution of products like condoms, support to youth friendly centers where youth can go freely for testing as well as provision of Sound system which was critical in helping the youths to stay safe during covid-19 lockdowns through messages.