The New Times (Kigali)

23 January 2013

Rwanda: Initiative to Fight HIV/Aids Gender Prevalence Launched

The United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (Unaids) has designed a new HIV gender assessment tool that is expected to assess the cause of women vulnerability to contracting HIV.

This tool aims at seeking solutions to the problem as well as identifying gender dimensions of the epidemic and assessing the degree to which national HIV response is addressing needs of the population, including sex workers.

"This tool therefore seeks to inform stakeholders so that they can plan and provide effective response to HIV as regards the need from the population," said Dieudonne Ruturwa, the Unaids-Rwanda's social mobilisation advisor.

He was speaking at the opening of a three-day workshop that brought together key stakeholders in the fight against HIV/Aids. Among others, they included Rwanda Bio-medical Centre (RBC) and the Network of People Living with HIV/Aids.

Supported by Unaids, it also attracted officials from the gender ministry, the National Police as well as Civil Society Organisations. Ruturwa explained that his organisation's commitment and support of the initiative is its confidence it has in the tool in contributing to the organisation's global target.

Gakunzi Sebaziga, the director of social impact mitigation at RBC, commended the initiative, saying it supplements government's efforts in fighting the disease; pointing out the National Strategic Plan on HIV and the National Accelerated Plan for women, girls, gender quality and HIV.

The government launched this programme in 2010. The four-year's programme aims at addressing gender inequalities and human rights violations that put women and girls at risk of HIV infection.

The programme, designed to respond to studies that shown women and girls being most affected and most vulnerable to HIV is costing the government US$5.7 million.

"In 2010, HIV prevalence among the female sex workers was estimated at 51 per cent nationally and 56 per cent in Kigali City," said Sebaziga.

He added that the government has since put in place various measures and that more are in the pipeline in making sure that HIV infections are significantly reduced.

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