Rwanda advances self-testing in push towards zero new HIV infections

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Rwanda has launched a six-month awareness and prevention campaign aimed at stemming new HIV infections in the country at a ceremony to mark the World AIDS Day.

Rwanda state minister of public and primary healthcare Patrick Ndimubanz

The campaign launched on Friday seeks to improve awareness on accessibility and availability of HIV testing services in Rwanda,

Speaking during the launch of the campaign, Rwanda state minister of public and primary healthcare Patrick Ndimubanzi said the focus would be on self-testing, with the government providing self-testing kits.

“This campaign would help promote and facilitate HIV prevention, care, and treatment and reinforce people’s willingness to participate in HIV interventions,” Ndimubanzi said.

The minister said HIV self-test kits would be availed in pharmacies and online for purchase through smart phones or internet in order to boost people’s willingness to participate in HIV interventions.

“We call upon all Rwandans who have not had a HIV test at least for a year to test and know their status,” he urged.

At the ceremony, condoms and other HIV preventive materials were freely distributed to participants and hundreds of people voluntarily participated in HIV testing.

HIV prevalence rate in Rwanda is at three percent since 2005 due to the numerous strategies in place, Jeanine Condo, director general of Rwanda Biomedical Center, said at the ceremony.

HIV preventive and treatment services have been scaled up to more than 90 percent of health facilities across the country, figures of Rwanda Biomedical Center showed.

HIV and AIDS from mother to child transmission has been reduced to less than 2 percent while provision of anti-retroviral treatments reaches to all HIV positive people in need and for free, according to the ministry of health.