About 50 youth between the ages of 15-19 in anti-AIDS clubs in Gasabo District were last week trained to be peer educators by Health and Development Initiative (HDI) in partnership with UNICEF in an effort to increase their knowledge about HIV/AIDS and its prevention.
During the training, Beatha Uwazaninka, the communication coordinator for HDI, expressed concern about the ignorance young adolescents had about HIV prevention.
“From our discussions, I realised that most of these young adolescents have many myths concerning HIV/AIDS. This is why it is important that we bring the national policy guidelines on how to teach adolescents and bring youth youth-friendly services,” she said.
She noted that in Kigali, the HIV prevalence rate is significantly higher in Gasabo compared to other districts, where 2.3 per cent males and 4.6 per cent females are HIV-positive. Youth in Gasabo become sexually active at a younger age with 14 per cent of them having sex before the age of 15.
“Through HDI’s current work in Gasabo District and their involvement in civil society fora, it is recognised that out-of-school youth have complex needs which are not fully covered from HIV interventions.
“The prevalence can be blamed on the rise of cross-generational sex, poverty and lack of information. We are providing peer educators with knowledge on HIV prevention, positive behaviour change and their role in ending the AIDS pandemic,” Uwazaninka said.
She added that although HIV services are available in Gasabo, youth-friendly services are inadequate; citing that the only youth centre in the district is located in Rusororo sector.
Deo Mungwarankarama, the projects trainer and coordinator of Kabuga Youth Friendly Centre, said most youth had very little knowledge about reproductive health and how HIV is transmitted because their parents did not educate them about it.
“They depend on myths and wrong information from their peers. It is important that we teach them the truth about facts surrounding HIV so they can learn better how to prevent it,” he said.
The training also addressed gender issues by exploring the barriers adolescents encounter and its relation to gender and vulnerability.
The peer educators are to conduct sessions in their clubs where their trainers will monitor them. Teachers will also be equipped with information of the right to adolescent health and knowledge on HIV and the national policies guidelines.