By Annonciata BYUKUSENGE
“No Condom, No Sex” an ongoing campaign in Musanze district, Northern Province, is gaining momentum.
Led by ANSP+ in partnership with the Global Fund/CCM Rwanda, the campaign aims to stop further spread of HIV/AIDS.
The Campaign started in Muko sector, Musanze district in 2019. It targets sensitization of both “common and VIP sex workers” from Musanze district.
According to ANSP+, common sex workers are those that lineup on roadsides at night waiting for the clients, while VIPs are those that have clients who take orders.
They either find clients in their home or clients meet them in their residences.
The campaign involves educating sex workers about dangers of unprotected sexual intercourse, doing sex when drunk, taking antiretroviral treatment or antiretroviral therapy as part of individual responsibility to stop the spread of HIV/AIDS.
ANSP+ officials say that the campaign has gained momentum with female sex workers and Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBTI) members feeling free to ask for condoms, seeking safe sexual advices and taking antiretroviral therapy.
According to ANSP+, Musanze district has many sex workers because of tourism in the area.
“Safe sex is the only way to good life in this business. We have been trained that life is more precious than anything. It will help us to raise our children but also prevent ourselves from contracting the virus,” Philomene Kamabera, the chairperson of the female sex workers in Musanze district said.
“It does not make sense to work for money in the way that perishes life. We used to fear for our lives, but after the campaigns, we all know that we can be safe in our business.”
Kamabera confessed that she is a sex worker since the last 14 years, but she targets to promote the no condom, no sex campaign to prevent further spread of HIV.
The association of female sex workers in Musanze has now grown to include 30 members. They pledge to support this campaign.
“I have been into this for several years now. Several colleagues of mine got infected but thanks to God I am still healthy. We shall sensitize our friends to join the association, but also teach them about safe sex,” Marie Chantal Ingabire, another female sex worker said.
Rwanda has made tremendous progress towards controlling HIV.
According to results from the Rwanda Population-based HIV Impact Assessment (RPHIA), 76% of all adults living with HIV/AIDS in Rwanda have achieved viral load suppression. This figure surpasses the Joint United Nations Program on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) target of 73% by 2020.
In Rwanda, the prevalence of HIV among adults is estimated at 3%, which translates into approximately 210,200 HIV-positive cases.
The prevalence is more pronounced in women (3.7%) than men (2.2 per cent).
“On a daily basis, we used to receive about five people for HIV testing in the last two years. Today we receive over 40 people. Many sex workers have changed their mentality about HIV/AIDS prevention, treatment and testing,” Joseph Nziringirimana, ANSP+ project manager said.
According to Nziringirimana, the no condom, no sex campaign will continue to contribute to the government target of eradicating HIV by 2030.
In ANSP+ ways of dealing with key population like female sex workers and LGBTI, priority is not to conduct a campaign that intends to withdraw them from doing sex, but to make sure that they do safe sex.
“We have to consider that those people may do sex with our wives/husbands, our sisters or children. The consequence in this context will fall on the society at large,” said Deborah MUKASEKURU, Coordinator of ANSP+.
According to Mukasekuru, ANSP+ has more than 50,000 members.
ANSP+ is a non-governmental organization that prevents HIV, supports treatment services and improves community fitness and fights stigma and discrimination.
The Global Fund is an organization dedicated to Fight HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria.
According to the 2020-2021 annual report of Rwanda Biomedical Centre (RBC) and Ministry of Health Annual Report for HIV and Viral Hepatitis 2020-2021.pdf, from July 2020 to June 2021, a total number of 3,348,337 HIV tests across the country were conducted, with an overall positive yield of 0.48%. The higher positive yield of 5.33% was identified in sexual partner testing through the index testing services.
Below are status of HIV per ages from 15 years old to 50 above; Provinces and City of Kigali; men and women.