The president delivered this message yesterday at Kigali Convention Centre at the official opening of the International Conference on AIDS and Sexually Transmitted Infections in Africa (ICASA); a conference bringing together participants from about 20 countries.
He was joined by the President of Mozambique Filipe Jacinto Nyusi, Director General of the World Health Organisation, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus; First ladies, Mrs. Jeannette Kagame, Mrs. Antoinette Sassou Nguesso from Congo Brazzaville, Mrs. Hinda Déby Itno from Chad, Mrs. Aïssata Issoufo Mahamadou from Niger, Mrs. Rebecca Akufo-Addo from Ghana and Mrs. Neo Jane Masisi from Botswana.
Kagame said that stigma and silence are the real killers when it comes to sexually transmitted infections.
“ICASA exists in order to break down the taboos that impede prevention and early treatment. You are the ones to speak loudly and clearly. We have come too far in this struggle to do otherwise,” Kagame noted.
The President also indicated that AIDS is an epidemic without borders and that much of the success in the campaign to halt the spread of the virus can be credited to global cooperation; calling for support to the organizations that have been championing that agenda and calling for governments to mobilize the necessary financial resources.
President Kagame stated that leaders have a role to play in building a health system that includes all their citizens, young and old.
Rwanda was applauded for its exemplary interventions towards fighting HIV/AIDS epidemic.
“Today, over 90 percent of all people living with HIV in Rwanda know their status and almost all of them are on life-saving treatment. Of those, 90 percent have achieved viral suppression,” Ghebreyesus said.
That, he added, makes Rwanda one of the few countries to achieve the 90-90-90 targets prior to 2020.
Under its fast-track target known as 90-90-90, by 2020 UNAIDS aims to have 90 percent of people with HIV knowing they are HIV-positive, 90 percent of diagnosed people on treatment, and 90 percent of those on treatment able to use the medication to suppress the amount of virus in their bodies to a low level.
According to Diane Gashumba, Rwanda’s Health Minister, Rwanda’s fight against the HIV/AIDS epidemic is grounded in the principle that those affected should be at the centre of the response.
“The integration of HIV treatment into maternal and child services has led to more equitable access to prevention and treatment. In collaboration with our dear partners, we have managed to put our people at the centre of each intervention that is being made in the health sector,” she remarked.
Mozambican President commended Rwanda’s progress towards the fight against HIV/AIDS, highlighting his presence was to draw lessons from other countries and learn from the kind of good practices deployed elsewhere to fight the HIV epidemic.
“In addition to drawing experience, we have come to Kigali to reaffirm the determination of our government to combat HIV/AIDS epidemic and proliferation of infectious diseases,” he noted.