Life Expectancy up for Rwandans Living with HIV

Being diagnosed with the HIV/AIDS virus shattered her dreams and hopes to live a full healthy life.

Clotilde Kampire, 44, a single mother, recalls collapsing in front of doctors after being told she was HIV positive in 2004, “I cried and wondered what would happen to my two children.”

Kampire’s ex-husband had abandoned her for another woman and noticed she was losing weight while her 3-year old son was sickly. She decided to test for HIV.

However, ten years later, Kampire can smile again thanks to Impore Mama, a cooperative for 50 people living with HIV/AIDS that took her in, teaching her the basics of living healthy, regardless of the virus.

Kampire and her son are among 3% of Rwandans living with HIV. There are over 6,000 new infections annually but government wants to reduce them to 2,000 by 2018.

Over 400 participants at the International HIV research conference 2014 hosted in Kigali were told prevalence of the epidemic has remained constant since 2010.

Researchers at the conference noted that a 40-year old HIV patient can now live for 30 more years, rising life expectancy to 70 while a 15 year old HIV patient can live for 35 more years.

“Most findings show great yields regarding Rwanda’s fight against HIV,” says Dr. Sabin Nsanzimana, Head of HIV at Rwanda Biomedical Centre.

While closing the conference December 5, Rwanda’s First Lady Jeannette Kagame said, “HIV has brought the world together, to solve a problem, as no other global health issue has ever done.”

Findings indicate that Anti-RetroViral drugs reduced HIV transmission by 6% while sex workers are identified as key drivers in transmitting the virus. The government has put 93% of the patients on free medication.

Mrs. Kagame said, “We have learned a lesson about the nature of HIV virus. Challenges remain but should be a step over towards seeking a global solution to HIV/AIDS epidemic.”

Rwanda is viewed as one of the key leaders in terms of innovative programs, responding to population needs to combat HIV,” said Dr. Edward Mills, researcher from Global Evaluative Sciences.

Male circumcision, voluntary testing for expectant mothers, engaging community and testing babies areRwanda’s programs credited for combating HIV. Rwanda has 476 ARV sites offering free HIV services.

 

By: Lillian Gahima