Prevention and mitigation of HIV

HIV and adolescents



HIV and adolescents

While Rwanda’s HIV prevalence rate is low at 3%, many young people, especially girls, remain at risk of contracting the virus, this is because a large number of young people in Rwanda, are unaware of the risks associated with HIV and particularly how to prevent against HIV.

Some of the key challenges in terms of HIV prevention amongst youth are:

Knowledge gaps amongst youth: Only 49% of males and 43% of females understand how to use condoms.

Availability of youth friendly HIV prevention services: Youth friendly HIV prevention services are more likely to prevent against HIV by reducing risk behaviors by providing the relevant information and services in an enabling and protective environment for young people. Currently only three centers in Rwanda offer these services.

Access to HIV treatment, care and support: HIV testing and treatment services in local health centers clinics and hospitals for youth and adolescents is poorly integrated and can be difficult to access.

Limited guidance or messages on HIV prevention from parents and society: Communication campaigns targeted at youth have only just begun and face serious challenges in terms of redefining cultural norms.

What is UNICEF doing?

As part of a larger UN Programme on Youth, UNICEF is:

  • Promoting a protective and enabling environment for young people, strengthening measures to prevent and reduce stigma and discrimination – this includes supporting the production of age-appropriate and gender-sensitive sexual and reproductive health information. 

  • Ensuring that HIV prevention messages are mainstreamed into the national teacher training and school curriculum. At present, UNICEF is working with UNESCO and the Ministry of Education to define a basic sexuality education programme.

  • Supporting peer education initiatives that promote HIV prevention messages, for youth who are out of school in high-risk and high prevalence areas.

  • Providing access to services for the most vulnerable youth, including disabled youth. UNICEF recently supported the Government of Rwanda to develop standards for youth friendly services.



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