Rwanda’s Ministry of Health is targeting not less than 1,500 people to get free HIV testing during the ongoing international trade exhibition that is taking place at Gikondo expo grounds in Kigali.
During last year’s expo a total of 1,036 people were tested of HIV.
According to Rwanda Biomedical Centre head of the Health Communication Division Malick Kayumba the health ministry is taking advantage of the expo since it brings together many people.
“We have more than 20,000 people who come to the expo every day. This is a huge number and when they are here, they are free and not so busy, so we have to use this as an opportunity to encourage them to undertake voluntary HIV test.”
Kayumba said that they are using different channels of communication so as to reach the people for a greater impact.
He added that the campaign is going on well and about 350 people have already been tested noting that there is enough capacity to accommodate more people than those who were targeted initially.
The expo commenced on July 27, and will last for two weeks.
The health ministry is also utilizing the opportunity to create awareness among the people about family planning, hygiene, tuberculosis, nutrition, malaria and non-communicable diseases like cancer, blood pressure among others.
Jeanne Nyiraneza, a nurse at Remera Health Centre, one of the nurses that are involved in conducting the HIV tests at the expo, said that the exercise has attracted a lot of people, among them those working in the expo.
She said that they offer counseling services after testing and that those who are found positive are immediately referred to health centres where they can receive anti-retroviral treatment.
She added that the process is very convenient and friendly to the people who come to the expo since it is free and takes very little time.
“We use the finger prick method. In just ten minutes, the results are out and one is free to continue with their business. It does not tire people.”
According to Dr Sabin Nsanzimana, the Division Manager of HIV/AIDs and Sexually Transmitted Diseases Division at RBC, they are focusing on increasing the number of people who come for testing so that the infected will be immediately initiated on ARVs
“There are two things that are on our priority list of fighting HIV and AIDS, one is to encourage people to come for testing as an entry point for treatment, second is that everyone tested positive must start anti-retro virus treatment immediately,” he said.
The HIV/AIDS prevalence rate in Rwanda stands at 3 per cent.
Among males, it is 2.1 per cent and, among females, it is 3.5 per cent, according to figures from RBC.