By Susan Babijja
AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF) combines efforts with the ministry of health in the fight against HIV in Rwanda as well as controlling new infection that is becoming a challenge.
Every 1st of December Rwanda joins the rest of the world in observing the World AIDS day. On this day, the global community pays tribute to all those who have lost their lives to AIDS and finding ways of how to prevent it.
Globally, millions of people come together every year to remember the 35 million have died from AIDS-related illnesses with renewed hope and determination, standing up for adherence to the human rights and empowerment of people living with HIV and those left behind and importantly also for the intensified application of pure and social sciences for ending the epidemic.
Recent evidence shows that since the first cases of HIV were reported in the early 1980s, about 78 million people have become infected with the disease.
In Rwanda, the day was marked in partnership with the Ministry of Health, Rwanda Biomedical Center (RBC) and Aids Healthcare Foundation (AHF). Rwanda still has 3% with an aim of reducing it to 0% prevalence of HIV.
AHF is a non-profit organization that was founded in 1987 and has been at the forefront of the response to the HIV epidemic. The organization has since its inception grown rapidly in size, capacity, and experience and has a proven track record of success in implementing HIV/AIDS programs globally.
With its mission, to provide cutting-edge medicine and advocacy, regardless of ability to pay across the Globe, Globally AHF provides free HIV/AIDS prevention, HIV counseling and testing, care, support and treatment services to over 659442 clients.
In Rwanda AHF in 2015/2016, supported the government in providing HIV care and treatment services to 23,252 clients, distributed 1,808,000 condoms and tested over 270,000 people and linked those identified as HIV positive into care.
According to the Country Manager Dr. Brenda Asiimwe Katera, a lot of progress has been made in Rwanda in the HIV response with reductions in new infections by almost half, reduction in HIV related deaths, increased geographical coverage of HIV services, increased rates of medical male circumcision by over half among other achievements.
“Rwanda has made a lot of progress in addressing HIV, have implemented test and treat strategy where everyone tests and new infection have also reduced but there is still challenge with young girls, adolescent girls, long distance drivers and homo sexual among others,” she says
AHF covers 36 countries through its Bureau Program in Africa, Asia-Pacific, Latin America, and Eastern Europe.
According to statistics from Rwanda Biomedical Center, the rate of new infections has declined by 50 per cent; roughly 80 per cent of adults in need of anti-retroviral drugs are receiving the medication, while mother-to-child transmissions at 18 months have reduced to less than 2 per cent.
“We are reducing new infection by test and treat where by those on medication cannot infect others. We have started a three months medical programme where patients will be going to any service center to be given medication for three months. This will apply to patients without sickness complications, to avoid inconveniences for monthly movements,” she says
Apart from fighting against HIV, AHF provides services like community based health insurance, nutritional support and transport reimbursement to the clients and their families. Health system strengthening initiatives such as capacity strengthening of the healthcare providers, infrastructure support and meeting overhead costs to the supported health facilities.
“Despite this success, we need to keep the momentum going against HIV as we are still seeing new HIV infections especially among young adults, girls and women, adolescent health, co-infections and non-communicable disease burden still needs to be addressed; among other issues,” she says
The World AIDS day 2016 theme is: “Get up all against HIV/AIDS-Still there”. This serves as a reminder that we cannot afford to be complacent but continue to run the race against HIV. Therefore everyone needs to play their part as we collectively move forward together. Let’s keep the promise to fight HIV until it is over.
In Rwanda, AHF has partnered with the Government of Rwanda in the HIV response since 2006; initially supporting 6 health centers in 2 districts. Today, AHF Rwanda supports 20 health facilities in 8 districts of Gasabo, Nyarugenge, Kicukiro, Nyabihu, Musanze, Rubavu, Nyanza and Huye.
AHF also supports five (5) HIV focused community based organizations to ensure community based interventions and linkages to health facilities are addressed coming 2017 AHF is planning to further extend its support to 5 other sites.
Prevalence of HIV; male (% ages 15-24) in Rwanda was last measured at 1 in 2014, according to the World Bank. Prevalence of HIV is the percentage of people who are infected with HIV. Youth rates are as a percentage of the relevant age group. This page has the latest recorded value, an historical data chart and related indicators for Prevalence of HIV -male (% ages 15-24) in Rwanda.
Augustine Byunvehore from Nyamirambo said he tested for HIV in 2000 and found out he had it
“Because of the situation that was there by then, I could not reveal myself, people could fear even sitting near you. It gives me hope when others come out and tell their situation,” he said