KIGALI - The mother to child transmission of HIV/AIDS in the country reduced by 8.3 percent from 11 percent in 2004 to 2.7 percent by the end of last year.
Dr. Placidie Mugwaneza, the head of HIV Prevention in Trac-Plus, revealed this yesterday at a press conference organised by the National AIDS Control Commission (CNLS), to brief journalists on the upcoming 6th Annual National Paediatric Conference on children infected and affected by HIV/AIDS, scheduled for November 17-19.
Mugwaneza attributed the downward trend to attention given to HIV positive pregnant women. She said that currently, 384 health centres across the country provide services to pregnant women to help them produce healthy babies.
“We have reduced weeks of HIV/AIDS infected pregnant women when they start accessing drugs from 28 weeks to 14 weeks to effectively combat the virus from being transmitted to unborn babies,” Mugwaneza said.
About 23,000 children are born to HIV positive mothers each year and more than 7, 000 children are in need of ARV therapy, Mugwaneza noted.
Dr. Anita Asiimwe, CNLS Executive Secretary, said that 72 percent of HIV infected children currently access antiretroviral therapy (ART), up from 10 percent in 2005.
According to statistics from CNLS, there are 210,000 AIDS orphans, 27,000 of them under the age of 14 infected with HIV.
The paediatric conference will be held under the theme “Economic Development Poverty Reduction Strategy (EDPRS) Response to HIV and AIDS – Focus on the Education Sector.”
Dr. Asiimwe said that it will further help to strengthen and advocate for the needs of children with HIV as well as having HIV free born babies.
The Minister of Gender and Family Promotion, Jeanne d’Arc Mujawamariya, who also disclosed that the 6th National Children Summit will be held between November 14-17, called upon everyone to join hands to fight HIV infection among children which stands at 3 percent.
The children’s summit under the theme “The role of children in education fit for them,” is in the framework of the Rwanda education policy which seeks to ensure access to universal nine-year education, the suppression of gender based disparities, targeting quality education with measurable learning outcomes.
The press conference was also attended by Dr. Joseph Foumbi, UNICEF Representative, who promised further commitment in having AIDS free children in the country.