3 March 2016

Rwandans Urged to Intensify Fight Against HIV-Related Stigma

Rwandans have been called upon to intensify efforts in fighting HIV/AIDS stigma.

The message was delivered during an event to mark the International Stigma Day on Tuesday.

The event was organised by Rwanda Network of People Living with HIV/AIDS (RRP) in partnership with UNAIDS.

The event was organised under the theme, "Zero tolerance to stigma enables AIDS prevention and accelerates achievement of sustainable development goals," as part of the ongoing RRP community mobilisation campaign and pediatric treatment.

The day aimed at presenting an opportunity to observe the achievements made while calling for greater action toward the attainment of global target of zero stigma and discrimination by 2020.

'Fighting self-stigma'

Andre Uwayezu, the chairperson of Rwanda Network of People Living with HIV/AIDS, called on people living with HIV to avoid self-stigma as the community at large does the same for them.

However, he said this calls for concerted efforts from all stakeholders.

"People living with HIV/AIDS should not have self stigma. The community too should not stigmatise them. Fighting stigma is a responsibility of all the various people and institutions like the journalists, private sector and all Rwandans," he said.

Findings from the stigma index report conducted in Rwanda in 2009 perceived stigma and discrimination as a significant problem for people living with HIV.

The study revealed that 53 per cent reported experiencing some form of discrimination and a high proportion 72.2 per cent interviewed reported not being aware of national laws that protect their rights.

Speaking to the media, Dieudonne Ruturwa, the UNAIDS Rwanda community mobilisation and networking officer, said their desired target is zero stigma and discrimination, zero infections and zero HIV/AIDS-related deaths.

"By 2020, 90 per cent of the people will be living knowing their HIV status, 90 per cent of the infected ones will be able to access medication and 90 per cent of those on medication will be having it in the right way," Ruturwa said.

He commended government efforts in fighting the disease and called upon the leaders to strive to sustain this achievement.

Preliminary results from a rapid situation analysis of pediatric HIV testing and treatment among the members of the Network of People Living with HIV in five selected sites in Musanze, Kigali and Rubavu showed that fear of stigmatisation is reported at 28 per cent as a barrier for children HIV testing and positive status disclosure.

The rate of HIV/AIDS prevalence in Rwanda stands at 3 per cent.

The current national strategic plan states that inspite of the strong results achieved by Rwanda in the last decade in HIV response; issues of stigma and discrimination associated with HIV/AIDS are still persistent.


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