HIV prevalence rate worries MPs

Even as the country registered a big reduction in the HIV/Aids infection rates, legislators have expressed worry over the current prevalence rates, saying more should be done to fight the global pandemic.
A volunteer testing for HIV at King Faisal Hospital. (Timothy Kisambira)
A volunteer testing for HIV at King Faisal Hospital. (Timothy Kisambira)

Even as the country registered a big reduction in the HIV/Aids infection rates, legislators have expressed worry over the current prevalence rates, saying more should be done to fight the global pandemic.

The lawmakers were reacting to a report presented by Ministry of Health showing the HIV prevalence in the country is at three percent.

The report was presented to parliament plenary sitting, on Friday, during a one-day parliamentary briefing on the final results of the 2012 Population and Housing Census.

Dr Sabin Nsanzimana, the Head of HIV/AIDS at Rwanda Biomedical Centre, said in the report to Parliament that about 226,225 people in the country leave with HIV, the virus that causes Aids.

Nsanzimana stated that in Rwanda, a single person gets infected with HIV every 3 minutes and this means that about 10,000 people acquire the virus every year, while 5,000 people die of HIV/AIDS related diseases per year.

A big number of those infected however do not know their status.

“It is unfortunate that about 50,000 do not know that they live with HIV, because they have not gone for the HIV test,” said Nsanzimana.

Legislators described the statistics as “worrying” and called for more efforts in the fight against the virus. “These statistics are worrying, something must be done to have an HIV free nation,” said MP Gabriel Semasaka.

MP Marie Claire Uwamama called for measures to fight against prostitution that the report indicated as the main driver of new infections.

Rwanda has a population of 11 million people, 48.2 percent males while the majority (51.8 per cent) are female.

However, 2.3 percent of the male population is infected with HIV. The rate is however higher among women at 3.6 percent.

Nonetheless, the report suggested that the new HIV infections have declined by 55 percent in the last 10 Years while HIV/AIDS related mortality reduced by 77 percent during the same period.

Leaders reminded

The Minister of Health, Dr Agnes Binagwaho, called upon lawmakers to continue with the fight in order to eliminate HIV prevalence.

“As leaders, it is our role to respond to these prevalence rates, and fight against HIV in our country, and reduce on the new infections. It is possible,” she said.

She urged the House to encourage Rwandans to go for voluntary HIV testing. Those with the virus should be encouraged to seek free treatment early enough.

 

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