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May 14, 2024

Karongi: Religious leaders to raise awareness around paediatric HIV services

To raise awareness within community about paediatric HIV services in Karongi District, Caritas Rwanda in collaboration with Caritas Internationalis has conducted a 3-day training for Religious Leaders. The training focused on paediatric HIV and CaritasCare Mobile App from 23rd to 25th April 2024, at Home Saint Jean Hotel (Karongi District).

This training was organized by Caritas Rwanda through the Faith Project, funded by Caritas Internationalis and implemented by Caritas Nigeria, Caritas Ivory Coast, and Caritas Democratic Republic of the Congo. Karongi district was selected due to its high prevalence of HIV infection compared to other districts in Rwanda.

Dr Prince Bisco Kanani, the Director of the Health Department in Caritas Rwanda, highlighted several barriesrs to identifying and treating HIV in children. These barriers include higlli, (i) limited access to paediatric HIV testing and counselling services, (ii) persistent stigma and discrimination against HIV-positive children and their families within communities, and (iii) inadequate healthcare infrastructure and limited availability of specialized paediatric HIV treatment and care.

In response to the first two barriers, Religious Leaders, serving as influential figures in the community, will be tasked with educating others about HIV stigma and discrimination during their various engagements. They will also utilise CaritasCare Mobile App to collect data and identify undiagnosed children at community level, ensuring they are connected with Health Facilities for testing and treatment data via the CaritasCare Mobile App and undiagnosed children at the community level and liaising them with Health Facilities for testing and treatment.

In his closing speech, Father Elie Hatangimbabazi, Director of Caritas Nyundo-Kibuye, reminded the Religious Leaders that the work assigned to them under the Faith Project aligns with Caritas’ mission. He urged them to approach the task with enthusiasm and complete it diligently

As for Dr Giulia Amerio, Faith Project Manager and the Health advisor for Caritas Internationalis, Faith Project is not only a project like any other, but also a work of God, of taking care of HIV-positive children who need help for the moment. “I will keep you in my prayers”, she added.

On the last day of the training, the Religious Leaders trained on Paediatric HIV and the CaritasCare Mobile App, together with Caritas Internationalis and Caritas Rwanda’s facilitating team visited the Mubuga Health Center’s Elimination of Mother-To-Child Transmission (EMTCT), Antiretroviral (ARV) services and laboratory to better understand how the HIV positive children are cared for.