KARONGI — The Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA), has continued its efforts to scale-up voluntary HIV/Aids counselling and testing among school children, in an attempt to curb the spread of the scourge.Since last year, over 750 pupils of Birambo mixed Primary School located in Gashari Sector, Karongi District were tested.
According to ADRA officials, children are easier to convince to take the voluntary tests compared to adults. And they are more receptive to sensitization measures geared towards fighting the against the Aids scourge. The project was launched to help children set their future goals after ascertaining their status.
Jean de Dieu Nshimiyimana, 14, is a primary six pupil. He confesses that while he stayed at his aunt’s place where he grew up, he used to have casual sex with his cousin before he was warned against such a practise.
He has already gone for voluntary HIV testing and he says that he has been taught a lot about the HIV pandemic. Ever since he learnt about the scourge, he says that he is ready to mobilise his age mates at home to teach them about the dangers of the scourge including highlighting the likely prevention mechanisms.
‘It is now five months when I went for VCT. I wanted to know my status so that I could take concrete decisions for my life. It is important because I avoid spreading it when found infected. Luckily, I tested HIV negative,” Nshimiyimana says.
Mary Grace Umulisa, 13, another pupil in the same school acknowledges the importance of HIV testing among pupils and admits that teenagers engage in sexual intercourse.
‘……This programme has helped us to know our status meaning that being able to know about our status we can now take concrete decisions for our lives,’ she said.
Speaking at the same venue, the VCT coordinator, in Karongi and Nyamasheke Districts, Elysee Nyiringabo, also said the programme aims to help young children and adults to ascertain their status, and that the testing is free. He says the programme targets all primary schools and other interest groups.
“We decided to launch our programme from pupils because being tomorrow’s generation, a lot of efforts need to be done because they are the best productive assets,” he said.
The programme also targets the uniformed personnel including the National Police, Rwanda Defence Forces, prisons wardens and Local defence forces.