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6th Rwandan Conference on Children and AIDS Tackles Role of Education Sector in Preventing and Mitigating Effects of HIV

Kigali, November 18, 2010 -  Key note speakers at the sixth annual Pediatric Conference on Children and AIDS in Rwanda appealed to the education sector to take on a stronger role in both preventing and protecting children affected by HIV.

“In Rwanda almost all children are in school. Focusing on the education sector, therefore offers us an excellent built-in system to not only reach as many children as possible, but to address knowledge gaps related to HIV and to reduce children’s’ vulnerability to HIV infection”, said Dr. Joseph Foumbi, acting UN Resident Coordinator and UNICEF Representative in his opening remarks at the conference.
Each day, 15,000 children worldwide become infected with HIV, the vast majority of them newborns. In Rwanda, over 20,000 children live with HIV and more than 220,000 children have lost one or both parents due to AIDS. The prevalence rate amongst people aged 15 to 49 is 3%, down from 5% in 2002.

However, recent data indicates that only 11% of Rwandan youth between the ages of 15 and 24 can correctly identify ways of preventing the sexual transmission of HIV and reject major misconceptions about HIV. In addition, HIV affects Rwandan students in many other ways, including living with HIV, caring for a sick parent or relative, dealing with stigma and discrimination, having to miss school or having to drop out altogether.

This year’s conference brings together over 100 delegates across Rwanda and around the world, including two delegations from the Central African Republic and Benin. Participants will be meeting in Kigali for two days to explore issues faced by learners who are affected by HIV and identify concrete policy actions to keep them in school.

“What is unique about the way these conferences are organized”, added Dr. Foumbi, ”is that children from across Rwanda, including those living with HIV, discuss the same agenda issues and draft recommendations during a parallel youth forum. These recommendations are then incorporated into the overall conference recommendations.”

The UN in Rwanda, and UNICEF in particular, supports a variety of programmes to keep learners with HIV in school including curricula revision, the provision of life skills education, the promotion of a school health package, grants to vulnerable children, school feeding schemes and campaigns to eliminate stigma and discrimination.

For more information, interviews or photos of the conference, please contact:
Misbah Sheikh, Chief of Communication, UNICEF Rwanda, +250 788 300 731, Email:



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