Rwanda: Army Has Highest HIV Rate Compared To National Average
Kigali: The prevalence of HIV/Aids in both the active and decommissioned military personnel is higher among themselves and their families, than the general population, a study says.
Despite claims by the Rwandan Ministry of Defence that infection rates among soldiers in the Rwandan Army are lower than the general population, the study says, Rwanda follows a typical pattern seen in other countries.
Prevalence was found to be 4 percent compared to the national average of 3%. However, the Police was found to be having the same infection rate as that of the whole country.
The study was released to coincide with a regional conference for Armies and Police agencies from the five East African Community members. Representatives from these agencies are in Kigali for a three-day conference to workout how they can better coordinate their HIV/Aids combat activities.
Findings show that that among RDF soldiers, 87% were below 30 years old and 89% were unmarried. Despite high levels of knowledge of HIV/AIDS and STDs, 18% interviewed reported having at least two sexual partners.
The kind of security forces do which involves moving having no stable place base is another element that influences they higher rates of prevalence, according to the findings.
A working paper for the conference detailing the five-year EAC strategic plan on HIV says military conflicts in the region have increased the risk of vulnerability to HIV infection.
Launching the conference Monday, Rwanda Defense Minister Gen. Marcel Gatsinzi called for combined efforts from the regional forces to fight HIV.
The Rwanda army enforces mandatory testing upon recruitment and seropositive candidates are not accepted. However, soldiers who are infected while in service receive free medical treatment and officially HIV positive soldiers are not decommissioned.