The Ministry of Health is targeting at least 1,500 people to get free HIV testing during the ongoing international trade exhibition taking place at Gikondo expo grounds in Kigali.
During last year’s expo 1,036 people were tested.
According to Malick Kayumba, the head of the Health Communication Division at Rwanda Biomedical Centre, the ministry is taking advantage of the expo since it brings together many people.
“We have more than 20,000 people who come to the expo every day. This is a huge number and when they are here, they are free and not so busy, so we have to use this as an opportunity to encourage them to under take voluntary HIV test.”
Kayumba explained that they are using different communication channels to reach the people for a greater impact.
He said the campaign is faring well so far and, by yesterday, about 350 people had already tested adding that there is enough capacity to handle more people than those who were targeted initially.
The expo started on July 27, and it is expected to last two weeks.
The ministry is also using the opportunity to sensitise people about hygiene, family planning, nutrition, malaria, Tuberculosis and non-communicable diseases like blood pressure, cancer, among others.
Jeanne Nyiraneza, a nurse from Remera Health Centre, one of the nurses that are conducting HIV tests at the expo, said that the testing exercise has attracted many people, including those working in the expo.
She added that they provide counseling services after testing and that those found positive are immediately connected to health centres where they can receive anti-retroviral treatment.
She says the process is very convenient to the people who come to the expo since it is free and takes little time.
“We use the finger prick method. In just ten minutes, the results are out and one is free to continue with their business. It does not tire people.”
According to Dr Sabin Nsanzimana, the Division Manager of HIV/AIDs and Sexually Transmitted Diseases Division at RBC, they are focusing on increasing the number of people who come for testing so that the infected will be immediately initiated on ARVs
“There are two things that are on our priority list of fighting HIV and AIDS, one is to encourage people to come for testing as an entry point for treatment, second is that everyone tested positive must start anti-retro virus treatment immediately,” he said.
The HIV/AIDS prevalence rate in Rwanda stands at 3 per cent.
Among males, it is 2.1 per cent and, among females, it is 3.5 per cent, according to figures from RBC.