KIGALI - The Minister of Youth, Protais Mitali, has said that unless African countries combine efforts to eliminate HIV/AIDS, the epidemic will continue to claim lives on the continent.
He made the remarks, yesterday, while opening the General Assembly of the Pan African Youth Organization against HIV/AIDS (PAYA) that is under way in Kigali.
The continental forum will enable the youth come up with a roadmap towards fighting the scourge.
Mitali pointed out that Africa was the most affected with HIV, adding that concerted efforts by African countries are required to ensure the disease is contained.
“Joint efforts between African countries should be used as a tool for fighting HIV/AIDS, especially amongst youth where this problem is rampant,” he said, adding that the youth have a crucial role in this.
In the Rwandan context, Mitali disclosed that government had strived to sensitise nationals against the scourge, a move that has paid off owing to the declining rate of prevalence.
“The situation is not very dire in our country; HIV/AIDS has reduced and government has maintained the effort.”
He warned African youth who indulge in unprotected sex with infected people, saying this had led to the increase of the disease.
According to statistics, Sub-Saharan Africa is more heavily affected by HIV/AIDS than any other region in the world, where an estimated 22.5 million people are living with the disease, with South Africa leading the pack.
In an exclusive interview, Ncebo Khumalo, a participant from South Africa, acknowledged that the forum would benefit his county by drawing experience from other countries, especially Rwanda.
“There are some countries like Rwanda and Uganda that tried to fight this pandemic, so I am optimistic that the experience we shall share with them will help my country since I intend to go back and apply it practically to reduce HIV,” he told The New Times.
Meanwhile, during the two-day forum, participants will elect a new committee to govern the organization, but the secretariat remains in Rwanda.