June 20, 2013
On June 19-20 in Kigali, 15 civil society organizations (CSOs) completed a two-day training on HIV prevention with a focus on pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP). The meeting was organized by 2013 AVAC Prevention Research Advocacy Fellow Josephine Kamarebe and her host organization, the Health Development Initiative. 2013 Fellow Peter Michira from Kenya helped convene the meeting, building on his recent experience with a similar gathering in Kenya. Resource people included the UNAIDS Country Coordinator for Rwanda, Dr. Dludlu Sibongile and Dr. Patrick Ndase, Regional Physician for the Microbicide Trials Network.
The CSOs in attendance represented women, youth, sex workers, men who have sex with men, people living with AIDS and more. The session began by gauging participants’ knowledge of new biomedical HIV prevention tools. The meeting was the first time any of the CSO representatives in attendance had ever heard of PrEP. At the end of the session, after learning more about the intervention, everyone agreed PrEP could be a useful tool for those most at risk.
In her remarks, Dr. Sibongile emphasized the continued importance of other prevention options such as condom use and voluntary medical male circumcision. “No single HIV strategy stands alone. They should all be incorporated in order to reach the goal of zero new HIV infections and deaths.”
To follow up, meeting participants agreed to create a CSO steering committee to coordinate future advocacy. Those in attendance committed to passing along what they had learned to other members of civil society who were not present.