19 February 2013

Rwanda: City Authorities Rollout New HIV/Aids Policy

The Director-general of Public Health in Kigali, Dr Blaise Uhagaze, has said the city will prioritise the fight against HIV/Aids because it is more prevalent in Kigali than in the countryside.

He said the prevalence rate in Kigali is 7.3 per cent, three times more than in rural areas. The national prevalence rate is 3 per cent.

Dr Uhagaze was speaking at council meeting in Kigali recently.

"Due to urbanisation, high population density, urban migration, among others in the city, the rate of infection is higher than in rural areas," he said.

A recent survey by the City of Kigali says 56 per cent of prostitutes in Kigali are HIV-positive. The rate of infection mostly increases between the age of 35 and 49 with 7.9 per cent for females and for men infection rates increase between the age of 40 to 44 at 7.3 per cent. Infection rates tend to be lower in females between 15 and 19 years at 0.8 per cent, and 0.3per cent for males..

"We needed $3m in 2011 for HIV/Aids fight, but we couldn't get it, it requires more efforts to reverse the trend," Uhagaze said.

The strategies

The plan prepared within the context of Rwanda's strategic vision of containing HIV spread will involve resource mobilisation, capacity building at district and city levels to coordinate the City's HIV/Aids response, and mainstreaming of the effort to fight the disease in development programmes.

The City mayoy, Fidele Ndayisaba, said despite the high rate of infections, Kigali has a lot to do to contain the spread of HIV/Aids.

"What needs to be done is to heighten measures to reduce infection rate and also help the HIV-positive to live longer," he said.

The mayor urged authorities to step up advocacy, adding that more care should be taken to the women below 40 years as they are at a higher risk.

"Anti-Retroviral drugs are already subsidised, yet still too expensive for the average persons. To subsdise any further would come at the expense of some programmes," Ndayisaba said.

The City vice mayor in-charge of social affairs, Hope Tumukunde, called for more coordination, family dialogues and sex education in schools.

The Health Ministry strategy against HIV/Aids is implementing comprehensive education and communication programmes, including voluntary HIV testing and counselling.

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