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Celebration of World AIDS Day

ByWebmaster

Dec 13, 2022

GITEGA December 13th (ABP) – The First Lady of Burundi, Mrs. Angeline Ndayishimiye, joined the people of Gitega (center of the country) on Saturday, December 10, 2022, to celebrate World AIDS Day, under the theme: “Let us work for equal access to quality HIV services and to the opportunities offered by science”.

In her speech for the occasion, the First Lady pointed out that HIV/AIDS is a reality in Burundi and that young people under the age of 25 constitute the highest number of people newly infected with HIV/AIDS per year, in the whole country. She urged them to avoid having sex before marriage.

She called on young people in particular to behave well to keep their lives healthy in order to serve the country well. Mrs. Ndayishimiye urged parents to revitalize the family evening school, by talking with their children about the harms of HIV/AIDS. She also invited churches and other partners to take the lead in the fight against this scourge, because, she said, Burundi has aligned itself with the rest of the world to eliminate it by 2030.

The First Lady also called on Burundians to no longer discriminate or stigmatize people living with HIV/AIDS. To the latter, she suggested that they not spread the virus, through unprotected sexual intercourse, to respect therapeutic advice and to consult the healthcare provider in the event of any health problem.

In his welcoming speech, the governor of Gitega province, Mr. Venant Manirambona, indicated that currently, the number of people affected by HIV / AIDS continues to decline compared to previous years. To that end, he reported that in 2017, 705 people tested positive for HIV/AIDS, 1022 in 2018, 1792 in 2019, 1096 in 2020, 778 in 2021 and 556 until November 2022. He added that more than 60% of those infected are young people.

According to him, some HIV-positive people do not agree to share their HIV status with their relatives, others refuse to be tested or have sex without protection. The rural exodus, misguided boarding students, and others, are the main factors in the spread of this disease in that province, he added.

                                                                                                  View of the participants

As for the interim resident coordinator of the United Nations system in Burundi, Mrs. Clara Onyangwe, Burundi is one of the first countries in the region to have reached the 3X90 targets by the deadline of 2021, because 90.1% of HIV-positive people know their serological status through screening. She reported that 99.9% of them were under treatment and 93% of them that were under antiretroviral treatment have an undetectable viral load.

Despite this success in treatment, Mrs. Onyangwe said that after 40 years of responding to HIV, Burundians have not won the fight because, she says, inequalities continue to work against the path towards the elimination of this virus as a threat to public health.

She further reported that HIV remains a global concern in 2021. According to Mrs. Onyangwe, among 38,400,000 people who were living with HIV; 2.7 million were young people. 110,000 children and adolescents aged 0 to 19 died from HIV/AIDS. This is when the latter represent only 7% of the total number of people living with HIV, they nevertheless account for 17% of all AIDS-related deaths and for 21% of new HIV infections in 2021.

On the Burundi side, the interim resident coordinator of the United Nations system in Burundi reported that in 2021, about 75,000 people were living with HIV and that 7,000 of them were children.

Referring to the figures for 2010, she said that Burundi recorded a reduction of infection of more than 60% and more than 70% of mortality. She said this is a valuable effort to be commended.

It is worthy to note that on the sidelines of those ceremonies, the First Lady of Burundi, in collaboration with the Minister in charge of Public Health, Mrs. Sylvie Nzeyimana and other partners, distributed food and non-food items to the most vulnerable people living with HIV/AIDS in Gitega.