Rwanda: Church Leaders Campaign for Condom Use

Gicumbi, Rawanda — Religious leaders last Sunday led hundreds of their followers in a peaceful march aimed at promoting condom use in the fight against HIV/AIDS.

Carrying placards denouncing the spread of HIV/AIDS, the march started at Inyange Primary School to Byumba's new taxi park where various religious leaders made speeches.

Addressing participants, a representative of religious denominations committed to fighting the spread of HIV/AIDS, Thierry Niragire, called on parents to freely discuss with their children the dangers of the virus.

"Children as future leaders need to be cautioned against involving in early sex before marriage, as this exposes them to the danger of contracting the deadly virus that causes AIDS," said Niragire. Fidele Nsengiyumva, who spoke on behalf of religious leaders living with HIV/AIDS, advised HIV-positive persons to always use condoms whenever they engage in sexual intercourse.

"There is no shame in discussing condom use openly, because it is the only remedy to combat the spread of the deadly virus that causes AIDS", he said. Nsengiyumva further cautioned HIV-positive persons to desist from deliberately infecting others, saying it is a sin before God.

"God shall heavily punish those who deliberately spread the AIDS virus to non infected persons," he added. On his part, Gicumbi District AIDS Control coordinator, Jacques Ngarukiye, called on participants to take HIV tests in order to ascertain their health status.

"Testing enables infected persons to start taking available drugs that reduce the negative effects of the virus. In addition it enables infected mothers to deliver healthy babies," said Ngarukiye. The Director of Byumba Health Center, Papias Iyamuremye called on Byumba residents to join health insurance schemes, to guarantee treatment at subsidized pay for all residents.

The function was concluded with many participants undertaking voluntary Counseling and Testing (VCT).