By Sharon Kantengwa | The New Times Rwanda | May 21, 2016
The government, in partnership with the AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF) and the City of Kigali (CoK), have launched a new effort they say is an innovative approach to ensuring easy access to condoms in HIV hotspots in the capital.
The initiative, dubbed 24/7 Condom Distribution Kiosks Initiative (24/7 CK), involves strategic placement of ‘condom kiosks’ in four HIV high risk areas in the city, namely; Migina (Gasabo District), Magerwa and Giporoso (Kicukiro), and Nyamirambo in Nyarugenge District.
The development is part of a broader effort to control HIV spread through safe sex practices, with an emphasis on geographic hotspots and high risk groups.
HIV prevalence among female sex workers is much higher than in any other group – at 45 per cent countrywide and 51 per cent in the City of Kigali.
This group is the major driver of HIV transmission in the country, according to the Rwanda Demographic and Health Survey (DHS) 2015.
Speaking at the official launch of the initiative, Dr Sabin Nsazimana, the head of HIV/AIDS division at Rwanda Biomedical Centre, said the kiosks are meant to ensure condoms accessibility 24 hours daily to members of the community, from where individuals can pick free condoms and educational materials on safer sex practices.
He said the designed HIV/AIDS information and services are particularly meant for the youth and sex workers.
“We are taking condoms and useful information about HIV closer to sex workers, in areas where they are most concentrated,” he said.
He added: “We want to avail condoms in these areas 24 hours a day, we will also have attendants to provide educational messages to people on a daily basis,” he said
Dr Leonard Bantura, the AHF acting country programme manager, said the initiative aimed at helping reach the zero new infections target and end unwanted pregnancies.
“We are targeting zero new infections and to reduce cases of unwanted pregnancies. We also want to make sure that these condoms are supplied free of charge and are accessible and properly utilised,” he said.
“We will be monitoring the effectiveness of these kiosks with the help of the Police, we hope this initiative will help us meet our targets.”
AHF is a global organization that provides medical care and/or services through 13 healthcare centres which provide HIV testing, antiretroviral therapy, and prevention services integrated into general healthcare settings in line with the national strategy to decrease prevalence through HIV testing, prevention, and care outside of standalone care settings.
According to the Rwanda DHS 2015, the HIV prevalence is common in the population aged 15-49 and concentrated in some high risk groups such as female sex workers.
In the City of Kigali, the prevalence rate remained higher than anywhere else in the country, at 6.3 per cent, while it averaged 2 per cent in the rest of the country.
Among women and men who had two or more partners in the last 12 months, only 31 per cent (men) and 48 per cent (women) reported having used a condom in the last sex intercourse.