Civic groups campaigning for distribution of condoms in schools have received backing from a key government figure involved with anti-HIV/Aids intervention programmes.
Dr Anitha Asiimwe, the Deputy Director General of Rwanda Biomedical Centre (RBC), has backed the proposal to distribute condoms to schools, rejecting suggestions that such an action would promote promiscuity among students.
She told The New Times yesterday that, whereas abstinence was the best way to fight HIV/Aids and unwanted pregnancies, there was need to promote condom use among students who cannot afford to abstain.
“We have to face reality; that not all students can abstain. Some are having unprotected sex, exposing them to a high risk of catching HIV and AIDS. We should teach them to value their lives, have dignity and a number of life skills to prevent HIV and AIDS,” Asiimwe said.
She said that accessing condoms in schools could help reduce the risk of HIV infection and unwanted pregnancies in schools.
Dr Asiimwe pointed at a recent survey which indicated that 614 school girls got pregnant last year alone, as proof that some students engage in unsafe sex.
She said condoms in schools will help reverse the trend, rather than encouraging more students to engage in sex.
Meanwhile, Asiimwe said that a paediatric conference, slated next week, will focus response to HIV/Aids among adolescents.
The 7th annual forum will attract policymakers, researchers, healthcare providers, and development partners, among others.
“Strategic orientations will be formulated to ensure a greater focus on adolescents in the national HIV response and an advocacy agenda will be developed for high level commitment,” said a statement from RBS.