Theodette Murekatete, 48, contracted HIV/Aids 20 years ago. She is a housewife happily living with four children. A resident of Nyarutarama Cell in Gicumbi Sector, she attributes her perseverance to the ability to observe medical advice. Since she learnt that she had contracted the deadly disease, she immediately desisted from unprotected sex and resorted to using condoms.
“I have lived with HIV/Aids virus for 20 years,” she said. “The secret lies in using a condom, always. Doctors say that way, I reduce the risk of contracting other types of the HIV/Aids virus which is more dangerous. Besides, I regularly take ARV drugs. With my husband, we have now given birth to two safe children.”
Murekatete has benefited a lot of HIV/Aids counselling services offered by SFH volunteer workers belonging to Community Based Organisation (CBO) based in Gicumbi District.
“SFH people in my area have played a very important role. They talk to us about HIV/Aids and other health-related matters. They are indeed close to us the people of Nyarutarama Cell,” she reports.
She says gone are the days when people feared to talk about HIV/Aids. In her village, Murekatete says her and the neighbours share a lot of information about the disease. They voluntarily go for HIV testing.
“I have managed to convince at least 70% of my neighbor to have a test of HIV/Aids,” she says.
Lydia Uwimbabazi, a volunteer with SFH, says she is aware most youth in Gicumbi are sexually active.
“Although we encourage the youth to abstain or be faithful, more emphasis is put in urging them to use a condom because, besides protecting them against HIV infection, it can also prevent them from contracting other sexually transmitted diseases and unwanted pregnancies,” Uwimbabazi said.
Bosco Kwizera, the HIV/Aids programme officer at SFH, said they have been targeting 51 per cent of female sex workers.
SFH HIV/Aids Programme is functional in the five provinces of Rwanda, with permanent offices located in Gasabo District (Central region), in Huye District (Southern region), Musanze District in Northern region, Muhanga District in Western region and Ngoma District in Eastern region.
In Rwanda, the HIV prevalence is 3 per cent between the ages of 15 and 49 and is highest within Kigali, which has prevalence of 7.3 per cent.
The HIV prevalence among Key populations is as follows: 51 per cent of female sex workers, 8.9 per cent of men who paid for sex, and currently there is no sufficient data to convey the HIV prevalence for truckers.
SFH’s HIV prevention programme uses mass media and mid-media to create awareness in communities about prevention of the disease. These activities include production of billboards during planning campaigns, posters, brochures, radio spots, cinemobile and Training of peer educator and IPC (interpersonal communications done by trained peer educators).
SFH is positioned in the country as the largest social marketing organisation.