RBC in renewed drive to ease access to condoms

The Rwanda Biomedical Centre will establish kiosks to supply free condoms country wide especially in rural areas as part of efforts in the prevention of HIV/AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases.

This was revealed by Etienne Hakizimana, the Prevention Programme Manager at AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF). Hakizimana said the countrywide drive follows a successful establishment of the kiosks in Kigali.

He said the kiosks will facilitate people who can barely afford buying condoms, and on top of that ensure accessibility at any given time of the day.

“Some people were complaining that sometimes they don’t have the money to buy condoms while others claimed that they can’t access them late at night. We think with free condom kiosks operating 24 hours a day, it will help solve the issue with no excuse,” Hakizimana said.

He also added that besides the easy accessibility, the condoms are of good quality since they are cleared by the Rwanda Bureau of Standards before distribution.

According to Dr Sabin Nsanzimana, the Division Manager of HIV/AIDS and STIs Diseases at Rwanda Biomedical Centre, this initiative is currently on trial in Kigali city but will be spread countrywide next year.

He said that initial focus was areas where the level of prostitution is high for example in Gasabo-Remera, Kicukiro-Magerwa, Nyarugenge- Nyamirambo and Kicukiro-Giporoso.

“We want to curb the transmission of new infections that is why we introduced the condom-distributing-centres as a trial in some of the known prostitution corners of Kigali and according to the feedback the initiative is working,” Dr Nsanzimana said.

Status of HIV in the country

Recent findings from 2015 Demographic and Health Survey (DHS), show that HIV prevalence has been stable at 10% for the last ten years.

3.6% of women and 2.2% men are HIV positive. In urban areas, the HIV prevalence is higher than in rural areas. The lowest HIV prevalence is in Northern Province at 2.3% whereas Kigali city was at 6.3%.

On the other hand, among children less than 15 years old, HIV prevalence was at 0.2%.

The current report from Rwanda Biomedical Center reveals that between July 2015 and June 2016, the total of 3 million HIV tests were done across Rwanda with a total number of 26,497 positive cases, giving an overall HIV positivity rate of 0.7%.

Sex workers react

Some of the sex workers admitted to not using protection during sex saying that they didn’t have enough access to them; however with the introduction of the 24 hour kiosks, they have had access to condoms round the clock.

18-year-old Vestine Kampundu, a sex worker appreciates the initiative saying that they are indeed going to save their lives.

“Before introduction of these condom kiosks, we could have unprotected sex because we could not have access to condoms especially at night. Right now we get condoms for free and we can have as many as we want,” Kampundu said.

Jacob Habimana, a 20-year-old mechanic, says that the condom kiosks are going to be of great help to society.

“The fact that one can at any minute, get a free condom will provide no excuse for playing around with one’s life,” he said.

The initiative is supported by Rwanda Biomedical Center in partnership with Kigali City and AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF).