RUBAVU - Rwanda joined the rest of the world, yesterday, to commemorate the World Aids Day, with anti-HIV/Aids campaigners putting more emphasis on the importance of condoms in the fight against the scourge.
The world Aids Day, which is marked annually on December 1, aims at raising public awareness, fighting prejudice as well as mobilize funding to battle the disease.
“As we mark this Day, we should know that the HIV/Aids pandemic is still flourishing among us, and that we should not be blind to its consequences on our communities,” said Dr Anita Asiimwe, the Executive Secretary for the National AIDS Control Commission (CNLS).
The Day was marked in Rubavu district under theme “Protecting oneself and others against HIV is everyone’s responsibility; I choose to use condom.”
“We chose Rubavu because it’s one of the districts with the highest infection rate in the country,” added Asiimwe.
Statistics indicate that Kigali City is one of the most hit areas in the country, with approximately 7.3 percent of its population infected.
In Rubavu, the HIV prevalence rate stands at 3.5 percent.
It is also one the districts where people have scanty knowledge about HIV/Aids, officials said.
The Mayor of Rubavu, Sheikh Hassan Bahame, attributed the high prevalence of HIV in his district to the influx of tourists in the area; its proximity to the DR Congo, resulting to a high number of people in transit; as well as high number of sex workers, both in Rubavu town and in the neighbouring Congolese town of Goma.
“Although we registered many successes in previous condom campaigns, there is still need to break the silence and other taboos which prevent condom use,” Dr Asiimwe said.
CNLS has recently introduced a new technique to increase condom use, by installing condom vending machines in several public places across the country, particularly in hotels, bars and night clubs.
According to UNAIDS estimates, there are now 33.3 million people living with HIV worldwide, including 2.5 million children.
In 2009, some 2.6 million people became newly infected with the virus and an estimated 1.8 million people died from HIV/Aids.