The use of condoms among the youth has reached 53 per cent within the last 12 months, according to the latest demographic health census report.
The 2010 demographic health census also shows that HIV infection rate has stagnated at three percent from 10 per cent since 2000.
Dr. Sabin Nsanzimana, the coordinator of HIV and STI’s care and treatment department at Rwanda Biomedical Centre (RBC), says this is due to various awareness campaigns around the country.
He said the youth suffered less HIV infections than older people.
“People ranging between 38 and 40 years are more vulnerable than the youth because normally, married people practise unprotected sex more than the youth who have understood the dangers of HIV/AIDS and adopted the use of condoms,” Nsanzimana explained.
He further revealed that despite 10,000 Rwandans dying of AIDS each year, its mortality rate has decreased by up to 87 percent while antiretroviral use risen to 94 percent.
Antiretroviral drugs are distributed free of charge to patients and are available at the nearest health centres.
The report further shows that mother-to-child infection has also decreased from five per cent to one percent, but according to Nsanzimana, this would be eradicated in the next three years.
“The rate of infection in major towns is bigger than in (rural) provinces. In Kigali, the percentage of infected people has risen to seven percent (which is) over three times that of rural areas as other provinces have an average rate of two percent,” Nsanzimana said.
He assured that much was being done to gradually stamp out the pandemic.
“We plan to go to all cells and test people for free and teach them about HIV/AIDS. We particularly encourage women to test before they get engaged to their partners,” he said, in reference to the ongoing voluntary HIV tests in Kigali.
The exercise is presently taking place in Gatenga area of Kicukiro District.
Eric Rusingiza, 25, one of those who underwent HIV test yesterday, said: “It is not good to live without knowing your sero status. I saw others being tested and decided to do so as well.
It is not necessarily that people get tested because they have had sex; there are many other causes of infection apart from that”.
Speaking to The New Times, the president of Network of People Living with HIV/AIDS in Rwanda, Beatrice Kagoyire, revealed that her organisation has over 1,480 associations with 80,816 members around the country.
“When someone joins any of the associations, it is easy for us to assist him or her, and it helps to overcome despair because you meet others and you share experiences. When you are alone, you feel lonely which may lead to an early death,” she noted.
By Jean d’Amour Mbonyinshuti, The New Times