Prevention and mitigation of HIV
Rwanda has set itself a target to eliminate all transmission of HIV from mother to child by 2015. As the country has a relatively low rate of HIV prevalence, estimated at about 3%, the goal of achieving an HIV-free generation by 2015 appears likely.
However, challenges do exist.
While there is high (89%) coverage of antenatal care facilities that provide prevention of HIV programmes to pregnant women, only 62% of HIV positive pregnant women received ARV in 2011. There are also inequities in access, coverage and quality of care.
Only 50% of children (0-14 years) in need of anti-retrovirals can access this treatment, compared to 90% of adults; as such policies and standards are needed to guide HIV testing, treatment, and monitoring of children in health centres. Access to early testing and treatment for infants (as well as longer term care and support) will be critical if the majority of HIV positive children are to survive and thrive.
Addressing the stigma associated with HIV - children affected by HIV are generally amongst the most vulnerable in a community, often requiring nutritional and psycho-social care and support to go to school. This negatively influences adherence to treatment and compromises overall health outcomes. One of the strategies to address this challenge is to ensure access to holistic care, but stigma and low coverage of social protection interventions remain significant barriers. Over 22,200 children under the age of 15 live with HIV.
Young people, especially girls, lack comprehensive knowledge to prevent HIV infection, which means that despite low prevalence rates, 97% of Rwanda’s population and future generation remains at increased risk of HIV infection unless behavioral change programmes reach and are understood by key audiences.
What is UNICEF Doing?
As part of the UN in Rwanda, UNICEF supports the Government’s National Strategic Plan for HIV Prevention by ensuring that: