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 Combating HIV in Rwandan Prisons

Prison – a tough place to be anywhere in the world. But did you know they are a high risk environment for HIV to spread?

Around one-fifth of all new HIV infections occur through injecting drug users (IDUs) and men who have sex with men (MSM), both of which are prevalent practices in prisons.

In Rwanda, the Staying Alive Foundation supports an organisation that focuses its work on HIV prevention in prisons. As a result of the genocide in 1994, Rwandan prisons are overcrowded with little access to HIV information. United Youth for Rwandan Development (UYRD),is targeting 66,000 prisoners across the Eastern Province of Rwanda in a bid to tackle the high rate of HIV.

Volunteers inset

Project leader Rodrigue Kaombe said many of the inmates are unaware of the risks of HIV transmission.

‘Some prisoners believe that having sex with another man is against nature. This leads them to be secretive and have clandestine, unprotected sex,’ said Rodrigue.

The prisons lack appropriate HIV prevention information, condoms and testing facilities. UYRD are working to change this in 20 prisons by screening a documentary, written and produced by the organisation. The documentary interviews prisoners, nurses and prison guards who give an honest and accurate account of the reality of the high HIV prevalence in prisons and offers prevention information.

To coincide with the documentary screening, UYRD offer teaching sessions, distribute condoms and offer voluntary counselling and testing services.

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