Member-organizations working on HIV/AIDS and Health promotion under the Rwanda NGOs Forum have come up again with the commitment to reduce infections of HIV and Tuberculosis after realizing the late are still burdens to the country.
The commitment was made during a high level advocacy meeting on community evidence-informed interventions to fast track response to HIV and TB co-infection in Rwanda that attracted members of RNGOF and the Ministry of health.
The HIV prevalence is at 3% country wide and quite double in Kigali at 6,3 % due to its big number of key populations (female sex workers and men having sex with men).
However, in some areas of Kigali the prevalence reduces while in other corners grows higher. Kicukiro for example has increased from 1 to 3 percent, Gasabo reduced from 6 to 2%.
Las year, Nyarugenge was higher at 8%, and overall Kigali was 4%. Matimba, Biryogo, Muhima and Kimisagara (urban areas) are exposed to high prevalence. Kigali has three times HIV prevalence more than other provinces countrywide.
Health activists committed to reducing HIV and TB co-infection high increase rate at 75 percent by 2020 and they advise people to first be screened to know their status.
Nooliet Kabanyana, Executive Secretary of Rwanda NGOs Forum working on AIDS and Health Promotion said that civil society is looking on how they can contribute to the reduction of HIV and TB co infection in Rwanda, based on the Progress towards the 2016 Political Declaration of Ending AIDS, the set target of achieving 75% reduction in TB among People living with HIV by 2020, the data shows that in 2017, Rwanda has decreased TB related death among people living with HIV to 48%. Joint efforts is needed to make sure that 75% reduction of TB is achieved by 2020.
“We have achieved fighting the TB at the percentage of 45 percent and now we want to achieve the fight against TB at 75 percent by 2020, so today we have created this space so that we can meet: civil society and government mostly the RBC HIV and TB divisions so that we can discuss together to come up with actions that can help us to achieve this target,” Kabanyana said.
She said that it is a bit hard to achieve the set targets because it is still hard to reach the key population for screening TB among the HIV positive ones as they are still hiding due to self-discrimination.
“We need to fully advocate and make sure that the community understand this and make sure that the policy makers understand how the issue is a burden, we want to make sure that these people are no more hiding themselves, there is no stigma and discrimination in the community and we do need to leave anyone behind,” she noted.
She added that all people living with HIV and the key population will be engaged through an awareness campaign.
She commended high political will of the government of Rwanda and request them to fully involve the civil society and the community to work collaboratively and plan together in all processes at all levels in planning implementation monitoring and evaluation to better achieve the targets.
Dieudonne Ruturwa who represented UNAIDS Country Director commended the efforts by the Government of Rwanda to continue investing in reduction of HIV and other epidemics and making a good progress comparing to other targets.
The national HIV prevalence is 3% but Kigali only has quite twice the rate.
Eric Remera, an official from Rwanda Biomedical Centre (RBC) HIV division said that Kigali has high prevalence quite twice (6.3%) according to the last Demographic and Health Survey of 2015.
He said this is because Kigali has high number of female sex workers, many activities including developed tourism and high population density as other many capital cities of other countries.
He said that the Ministry in partnership with UNAIDS are partnering are targeting different populations from the key ones to reduce HIV prevalence.
“Among the measures, we have established the condom kiosks to help people access condoms easily and freely, self-testing tools in private pharmacies, we have started index testing whereby if someone is positive can reach his partners to get more positives to get a help. For the treatment, we facilitate ART adherence for HIV patients especially among adolescents to suppress the viral load,” Remera said.
He said that RBC helps HIV patients to get screened for TB and for TB patients to be screened for HIV so that both epidemics are handled.