KIGALI - With the current HIV prevalence rate of 3 percent, the Minister of Sports and Culture, Joseph Habineza, yesterday added his voice to the new awareness campaign that seeks to increase the use of condoms as a strong way of curbing the infection rate.
During the World AIDS Day celebrations that were held yesterday at Nyamirambo Regional Stadium, Habineza emphasized the benefits of increased condom use alongside other prevention measures, arguing that unless Rwandans change their attitude towards this method, the infection rates will persistently grow.
“You must adopt the use of condoms to avoid HIV transmissions. It has been availed everywhere and there is no excuse for acting irresponsibly,” Habineza warned the multitude of people who had gathered to mark the day.
As part of the celebrations, a soccer game was held between Rayon Sports Club and Kiyovu FC. Rayon beat Kiyovu 3-0.
The Executive Secretary of the National AIDS Control Commission, Dr. Anita Asiimwe, together with other officials, handed the club (Rayon) a cash prize of Rwf2m and a trophy while Kiyovu walked away with Rwf1.5m.
“Our focus this year is to increase availability and use of condoms because the method has been silent for long yet it is very effective among high risk groups like the youth and people with multiple partners.”
“This countrywide three-month awareness campaign that has started today will end on February 28. During this period, we will sensitize the public on the need to embrace this method so that we can break the silence and the other wrong perceptions that surround its use,” Asiimwe told The New Times.
According to medical experts, most people in Rwanda today attach condom use to infidelity, which is one of the reasons its use still stands at only 1 percent, yet it gives dual purpose protection against unintended pregnancies and sexually transmitted infections like HIV.
Voluntary testing and counselling was also conducted for 2,500 people.
With a related focus of controlling HIV infections worldwide, the World Health Organization has also announced new recommendations like earlier initiation of antiretroviral therapy for adults and adolescents.
Delivery of more patient-friendly antiretroviral drugs and prolonged use of ARVs to reduce the risk of mother-to-child transmission of HIV are also highlighted.
“For the first time, WHO recommends that HIV-positive mothers or their infants take ARVs while breastfeeding to prevent HIV transmission,” a statement from the organization quotes.
33 million people across the world are infected with HIV with 22 million living in sub Saharan Africa.