The Rwandan government is increasing efforts to provide HIV/AIDS testing and treatment to children who are living with or vulnerable to the disease in the country, Health Minister Richard Sezibera said recently, Rwanda's New Times reports. Sezibera said that more children living with HIV now have access to antiretroviral drugs and that 12% of young people received HIV tests in 2006, an increase from less than 1% in 2000.
Anita Asimwe, executive secretary of the National AIDS Control Commission, said that an increasing number of government measures to control HIV/AIDS in Rwanda have been instituted to protect children and young people from contracting the virus, in addition to promoting wider access to treatment and care programs for youth living with HIV/AIDS. According to a commission statement, three out of 100 people in Rwanda are living with HIV/AIDS, including 20,000 children younger than age 14. Mother-to-child transmission is the cause of 90% of pediatric HIV/AIDS cases in the country, according to the Times.
In an effort to address issues associated with pediatric HIV/AIDS, the commission will hold its fourth annual Pediatric Conference in the capital city of Kigali from Nov. 19 to 21. The conference, which is sponsored by UNICEF and other partners of the Rwandan government, will take place under the theme "Equity in financing services for HIV infected and affected children." The focus of the conference will be to generate concrete strategies to decrease the negative impact the virus has on children and achieve equity in financing pediatric HIV/AIDS services. More than 300 delegates are expected to attend the conference (Mugabe, New Times, 11/17).
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