The National Aids Control Commission (CNLS) values the local Demographic House Survey (DHS) as the best way for updating data on HIV/AIDS prevalence in the country.
The CNLS Deputy Executive Secretary, Antoine Semukanya, Wednesday said this while commenting on the 2008 United Nations programme on HIV/AIDS global report.
“We still rely on our 2005 DHS data which put the HIV/AIDS prevalence rate in Rwanda at 3 percent,” Semukanya insisted. The next DHS is anticipated in the year 2010.
Semukanya was non committal on the new report by UNAIDS which indicates the rate of HIV infections to be declining in a number of countries.
The report points out that the AIDS epidemic is not over in any part of the world and is gaining pace in some. It noted that the number of people living with HIV around the world has stabilised at around 33 million and that there is evidence that prevention campaigns played a role.
The report also says that about 2 million adults and children worldwide died of AIDS related illnesses in 2007 but 2.7 million were newly infected; down slightly from 3 million in 2001.
“This is not the time for complacency,” Elizabeth Mataka, the UN special envoy on AIDS was quoted Tuesday by IRIN news agency as warning at the launch of the report in Johannesburg, South Africa.
The epidemic appears to have stabilized in Malawi, Zambia and South Africa, has started to decline in Botswana and Zimbabwe,while it is reportedly rising in Mozambique.
In East Africa, the epidemic in most countries is said to have receded or remained at its present rate of about 5 percent.
The data shows that young women in many African countries are much more at risk of infection than young men. It singled out South Africa to have women accounting for 90 percent of new infections among people aged 15 to 24.
“Reducing women’s vulnerability to HIV would have to include tackling social norms such as inter-generational sex and tolerance of male promiscuity,” Mataka noted.
“I think the time has come for us to say, ‘yes, culture is what defines us’, but if culture is killing us, then we need to be bold enough to say that,” Mataka urged.
The international community has on several occasions hailed Rwanda for her efforts in the fight against the pandemic.