Hartnett Bridget1, Nakayima Liliane1, Niyingabira Julien1, Habarurema Gaspard1, Kayumba Malick1,*
1Rwanda Biomedical Center-Rwanda Health Communication Center (RBC-RHCC), Kigali, Rwanda
The 20th International Conference for AIDS and STIs in Africa (ICASA 2019), brought Africa together to discuss different innovations and ways forward in fighting sexually-related epidemics. Innovations in addressing HIV risks and vulnerabilities, new HIV infections, new treatments, and the development of a globally effective HIV vaccine were explored, as well as responses to other STIs.
It takes innovation to continue making advances in the fight against HIV/AIDS, as well as other epidemics. New innovations have made HIV testing, treatment, and care more accessible and achievable. In Rwanda, advancements in HIV include point of care testing, particularly for early infant diagnosis; pre-exposure prophylaxis; and treat all HIV positive regardless of CD4 count.
Advancement in HIV testing and prevention services
With the introduction of point of care tests, including the rapid test and a saliva swab kit, wait time for laboratory results have decreased from 14 days to a mere 15 minutes. Thus, rapidly enhancing the identification of new HIV infections.
Other recent innovations in Rwanda include the initiation of HIV self-testing to reach those particularly in rural areas, case-based surveillance and partner notification, the implementation of a referral system to improve the linkage between HIV testing and treatment services, e-based training for healthcare providers, the initiation of free condom kiosks in selected hot spots, and the promotion of voluntary medical male circumcision through campaigns to meet demand.