UNAIDS Executive Director, Michel Sidibe, is in the country to review the progress Rwanda has made in fighting HIV/AIDS as the world is looking to scale up HIV prevention.
The visit will see him meet different government officials to learn from the country’s successful experience in fighting HIV/AIDS among the communities.
The official met with the Health minister Dr Diane Gashumba in Kigali on Sunday.
“We want to learn from the successful experience Rwanda has had in fighting AIDS among its people through different political approaches, given its dedication to bringing everything of interest to the youth, give them knowledge and share information about issues that concern their health,” Sidibe said.
“We want to fast-track the AIDS response in terms of programatic approaches, which is the only way to break the backbone of this epidemic disease.”
In 2016, an estimated 87 per cent of people living with HIV in Rwanda knew their status and 91 per cent of those who knew their HIV-positive status were on ARV therapy.
Access to services will reduce the mortality rate, reduce new infections and eliminate the transmission from the mother to child, according to Sidibe.
Focus on youth
He said that political leadership matter, as it plays an important role to reinforce the integrity of programmes against HIV, especially by training community health workers.
Youth appear to be vulnerable to HIV infection given their sexual behaviours but different programmes are in place to protect them not only against HIV but also other diseases like Hepatitis.
Sidibe said, “We need to put more efforts in protecting the youth from HIV/AIDS and non-communicable diseases and let them know where they can find medical services with regard to such diseases, having figured out that the youth seem to be shy in accessing the same services together with adults. We must admit that they form a key force that can contribute to the country’s development.”
“We need to direct them where to get the right services for treatment, in case they are infected,” she added.
According to the Ministry of Health, HIV/AIDS infection has been constant in Rwanda at 3 per cent during the last eight years, with the recent infection standing at 27 per 1000.
Health minister Diane Gashumba said different programmes introduced to fight HIV among the community made a big impact to ensure infection rate does not increase.
“We are happy that the rate of HIV infection did not increase because more policies to fight AIDS among the communities were successfully implemented, but we need to put special focus on the youth to reduce the pace of HIV infection among the young generation.”
During his visit, Sidibe is also expected to meet heads of United Nations agencies in Rwanda to discuss joint UN support to the HIV response in the country.