The US Embassy in Rwanda is set to increase public awareness on HIV/AIDS through a musical concert on the sidelines of Tour du Rwanda,prior to the December 1 World Aids Day.
This was revealed yesterday by the US Ambassador Erica J. Barks-Ruggles during a presser.
For a period of 14 years, the United States of America has invested more than USD 1billion in the fight against HIV/AIDS, through the U.S. President’s Emergency Fund for AIDS Relief, PEPFAR.
The US embassy will partner with Global Livingston Institute and the Rwanda Cycling Federation in the wider awareness campaign on HIV/AIDS, slated to take place at the Nyamirambo stadium on November 18, alongside the celebrations of stage six of Tour du Rwanda.
Despite the low rate of HIV prevalence in Rwanda, at 3%, many young people, mostly females remain at risk of being infected. According to UNICEF, only 49% of males and 43% of females know how to use condoms as one way to prevent new infections.
“You know, 50 % Rwandans are under 20 years of age. So, we want to approach them for behaviour change because at their age, they are more likely to have sex, most of the times, unprotected, which leads to new HIV infections,” Ambassador Erica said.
PEPFAR supports lifesaving anti retroviral treatment (ART) for more than 94,000 people, including over 1,800 children. The numbers represent 52% of all Rwandans on ART.
Rwanda, like other countries, wants to reach the UNAIDS 90-90-90 goals by 2020, meaning 90% of PL HIV diagnosed, 90% of those diagnosed on treatment and 90% of those on treatment with a fully suppressed viral load.
However the US Ambassador noted that “reaching the 90-90-90 goals and moving to an AIDS free generation will be challenging.”
“As many of you know, HIV in Rwanda is mainly spread through sexual contact, and having more than one sexual partner is shown in the recent Demographic Health Survey of 2015 as the greatest risk factor of becoming infected with HIV”, she observed.
For Rwanda to achieve the 90-90-90 goals and to push further to an AIDS Free Generation, every person who has had more than one sexual partner in the last 12 months should get tested for HIV, “this will help put an end to this epidemic.”
The 2017 World AIDS’ Day will be celebrated under the theme “Increasing Impact through Transparency, Accountability and Partnerships.”
The U.S. government, through PEPFAR, is supporting these HIV controlling efforts through a new “Strategy for Accelerating HIV/AIDS Epidemic Control” with targets to achieve epidemic control in the country the end of 2020.