KIGALI - The Executive Director of the joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS), Dr Michel Sidibé, has commended the country’s approach in the fight against AIDS, which mainly focuses on prevention, adding that it is the most effective approach the continent can take to curb the AIDS scourge.
Addressing a Press Conference on Friday, Sidibe said that the only effective way that the HIV/AIDS pandemic can be dealt with since there is no 100 percent treatment is to prevent new infections rather than intensifying the use of therapy drugs.
Responding to a report highlighting initiatives taken to fight HIV/AIDS presented by the National Commission for the Fight against HIV/AIDS (CNLS), Sidibe hailed the commission’s efforts to shift the fight to prevention, adding that it is the approach all African countries should take on.
“What I have just seen in this presentation just tells us why we should make prevention the central part of the struggle. It is the only way we can deal with the disease, if we put one person on therapy and there are 3 new infections, we are literally not progressing,” said Sidibe.
He said that with that there is no reason Africa should continue having 300.000 children born with the disease yet this can be prevented.
He said that African countries should not look at HIV/AIDS as a problem but rather an opportunity for the people to rethink their ways and behaviours.
The CNLS report indicates that since 2008 when major focus was directed towards prevention, there has been drastic decrease in the number of new infections and it is expected that by 2012, incidences of HIV prevalence in the general population will have reduced by half.
According to the CNLS Executive Secretary, Dr. Anita Asiimwe, there has been a major decrease in sexual transmission of HIV/AIDS and vertical (mother to child) transmission of the virus while low levels of blood-borne transmission of AIDS have been registered ever since the fight was shifted to transmission.
“Rwanda has registered good results with regard to the fight against HIV/AIDS in the last fifteen years especially by lowering transmission levels and increasing access to treatment for those who are infected,” Sidibé said.
He affirmed UNAIDS’ commitment to provide resources to Rwanda to facilitate other prevention and treatment measures through promoting and mobilising donors supporting this cause.
Among other things, he lauded Rwanda for addressing the conspiracy of silence about the disease and stigma as they are major challenges in the fight against the scourge.