Eastern Province at the Top in prevalence of HIV-RBC

The Rwanda Biomedical Center (RBC) has expressed concern over the rise in the number of new Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) infections in the Eastern Province while it is decreasing countrywide.

This was revealed on Friday, August 25, during a two-week campaign organized by the Rwanda Biomedical Center (RBC) in cooperation with the Eastern Province.

With the theme “Let’s go and stop new HIV infections,” the campaign aims to fight and prevent new HIV infections.

Using statistics from research conducted in different years, Dr. Basile Ikuzo, the Director of the HIV Prevention Unit in RBC, stated that in 2019/2020, among youth aged between 15 and 24, 59% of girls were aware of Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome (AIDS), while boys were at 57%.

Apart from the districts of Kigali City, which have the highest number of people with HIV aged between 15 and 49, the districts of the Eastern Province, namely Rwamagana, Bugesera, and Kayonza, immediately follow, with Kirehe and Gatsibo ranking 10th and 11th. Dr. Ikuzo noted that while HIV infection rates have been decreasing in different parts of the country, in the Eastern Province, it has increased from 2.1% in 2010 to 2.5% in 2018/2019.

He emphasized, “The new infections are mostly among individuals under the age of 35, and females are more at risk than their male counterparts.”

The increase in new infections is observed primarily in the Districts of the City of Kigali and the Eastern Province. However, the country has managed to cope with the increase in HIV infections, which decreased from 27 per 10,000 people in 2014 to 8 per 10,000 in 2019, with the infection rate now being less than 3%.

Medical statistics for the year 2022/2023 show that among the majority of people under the age of 20 who underwent pregnancy tests, seven districts in the Eastern Province are ahead of all others.

Additionally, new HIV infections continue to rise among women involved in prostitution in the Eastern Province, where it reached 42%, compared to 32% at the national level. Statistics reveal that gay men in the Eastern Province are being infected at a rate of 10.4%, whereas at the national level, it is 6.5%.

Dr. Ikuzo remarked, “Based on these figures, there is still a gap in HIV prevention, both for new infections and for those taking medication.”

According to the latest figures from The Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS), in 2022, the median estimate of at least 39 million people globally were living with HIV, with 53% of them being women and girls.

In terms of new HIV infections, 1.3 million people became newly infected with HIV in 2022 globally, with 46% of these new infections occurring among women and girls of all ages.

It was also recorded that 4,000 adolescent girls and young women aged 15–24 years became infected with HIV globally every week in 2022, with 3,100 of these infections occurring in sub-Saharan Africa.