A Community Network to support HIV-positive Women
The UN in Rwanda works with the National AIDS Coordinating Council and other partners to help HIV positive Rwandans get the care they need, as well as to prevent mother to child transmission.
With the combined efforts of the UN and Rwandan officials, there is evidence that a significant improvement in HIV/AIDS treatment is occurring. Access to antiretroviral treatment for persons living with HIV now covers about 70% of those in need. This means that Rwanda now has one of the highest coverage rates in sub-Saharan Africa.
"What we need the most is the strengthening of the capacity of the different organizations of people living with HIV,” adds Afrika.
UNAIDS is at the forefront of these efforts, through their support of the national network of people living with HIV that is comprised of 1,304 organizations and 466 cooperatives.
The network fosters a community of support and education for those in Rwanda who live with HIV, and its members also advocate that mothers living with HIV do not have children.
In 2004, WFP began supporting people receiving anti retroviral drugs to ensure improved adherence to treatment (patients were provided with corn-soya blend, oil and sugar, to be served as porridge).
Christine Mukankasim is the president of cooperative Cellule Akagali, and they work to help those living with HIV become more self-sustaining. The cooperative recently received seeds, and members were taught how to diversify the crops. They now cultivate mushrooms, carrots, zucchinis and onions.
Within the cooperative, Mukankasim says if one of the members gets pregnant, she will be expelled of the group. "Yes, it can be traumatic for them, but it is important to scare our members not to get pregnant when you are HIV positive,” she says. " It is not a good thing to have a baby when you are HIV positive.”
Although the most recent comprehensive survey results concluded that 3% of adults in Rwanda are HIV positive, data from a 2008 Sentinel Surveillance amongpregnant women show that HIV prevalence among girls aged 15-19 in Kigali is at 16.8%.
Among the efforts' successes, there have been 120 service providers and 560 community health providers trained and established in the country. In addition, 50,000 refugees and more than 3,000 sex workers were reached with HIV prevention services.