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A baseline study conducted by Rwanda NGO Forum on HIV/AIDS and Health Promotion (RNGOF on HIV/AIDS & HP) has shown that there is 13% of HIV infections among drug users in Kigali.

The initiative was made with the support of Rwanda Biomedical Center (RBC) and OPEN SOCIETY INITIATIVE FOR EAST AFRICA (OSIEA) by organizing a Validation workshop of the key findings on Baseline Study to assess the practices of the substance use and its association to HIV infection among People Who Use or Inject with Drugs living in selected hotspots of Districts of the City of Kigali in Rwanda.

RNGOF on HIV/AIDs & HP got a grant from Open Society Initiative for Eastern Africa (OSIEA) aimed at mapping out PWUD/PWIDs in selected hotspots of City of Kigali namely Remera (Migina), Gikondo and Biryogo to get reliable information on their location, size, characteristics, and stakeholder interventions for improved HIV response targeting the vulnerable group affected by drugs use or injection.

In an interview amidst this baseline study validation, Nooliet Kabanyana Executive Secretary of Rwanda NGO Forum on AIDS and Health Promotion made clear the inventiveness of the research.

“We conducted this research to find out people who use drugs, who inject drugs in the selected hotspots in Kigali, the following step was to determine the social demographic characteristics of those drug users. Another step was to estimate the HIV AIDS prevalence among people who use and inject drugs.

Another step was to detect the sexual behaviors of those people who use drugs all over the selected hotspots.” She said.

“The findings are very noteworthy. We managed the research in five days and we had not expected more of efficiency than what we have got. We expected to scope only 440 but we reached 529 as the population sampling for the research.” She added.

With the findings revealing that 13% of the drug users and injectors are HIV positive, Kabanyana said: “This may result from interchangeably sharing needles and syringes among drug injectors and through unprotected sexual intercourse caused by lack of self-control of drug users”.

“Our advocacy is that this kind of people needs special care by the government in order not to spread HIV to the general population, through all possible health care.” She claimed.

In Rwanda, the prevalence of HIV among adults has remained stable at 3% with new infections occurring at an estimated incidence rate of 0.27 infections per 100 person-years.

However – currently no other data exist on the prevalence and incidence of HIV among people who use or inject drugs (PWUD/PWID) in Rwanda.

Elsewhere, substance use or drug use was one of the earliest risk factors identified for acquisition of HIV infection and it remains an important risk factor in the United States, Eastern Europe, and Southeast Asia. However, the scope of this high-risk behavior in sub-Saharan Africa is not widely known.

People with substance use have been identified by the World Health Organization (WHO) as a key population – one of several groups with high-risk behaviors that both have high rates of HIV infection and may serve as a reservoir for new infections in the general population.

In order to fight and discourage the use of Drugs on the national territory, the newly adopted law determining offenses and penalties in general punishes any person who, in any way, eats, drinks, injects himself/herself, inhales or one who anoints oneself with psychotropic substances. The convicted person is liable of imprisonment for term of not less than one year and not more than two years or subject to a penalty of community service.