Living with HIV in Rwanda
Rwandan children at a soccer field in Kigali, Rwanda. Emily Bancroft for PHR.
Emily Bancroft, Senior Coordinator of PHR's Health Action AIDS program, has spent the last month working in Rwanda. Emily has reported in the Boston Globe's Passport blog on some of her work with Rwandan children, teens and young adults who have AIDS.
KIGALI, Rwanda -- On the edges of a dusty soccer field that looks across the green hills of the capital city of Kigali in Rwanda, more than 200 children and teenagers laugh and play. Some of the younger kids form a circle and sing, while the middle ones play tag. The oldest sit on the steps talking seriously. After an hour, the kids gather for milk, bread, and bananas.They look like any group of kids in any neighborhood in the world. You would never know that all of them are living with HIV/AIDS. You would never know that they came from over all over the city in order to be together on a Sunday.
Despite its tumultuous history in health and human rights, Rwanda is now a leader in HIV treatment compared to its neighbors. According to the government, over 60 percent of patients needing antiretroviral medications (ARVs) are on them. Comparatively, the average uptake of ARVs is 25 percent in the rest of sub-Saharan Africa.
Emily also worked with Dr. Mardge Cohen, a longtime supporter of PHR. Dr. Cohen was one of the founders of WE-ACTx (Women's Equity in Access to Care and Treatment), which supports more than 3,000 women and children on HIV treatment.