Fair-goers trade a fingerpick for peace of mind

A big advantage of rapid HIV testing is that it can be done just about anywhere, quickly and conveniently. AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF) Rwanda embraced this approach and set up shop in an unexpected place – the 2017 International Trade Fair in Kigali.

Among a throng of over 400 exhibitors, AHF Rwanda ran one of the more popular booths during the two-week expo – a popup rapid testing point. In all, hundreds of thousands of people received information about HIV prevention and treatment, and 2,675 clients got tested. Nineteen clients received a positive result and were immediately linked to care. Over 150,000 people also received free condoms.

 

“Events like this can really help save lives,” said AHF Rwanda Linkage Coordinator John Hakizimana. “Because we’re here, these 19 people who tested positive will be connected to health centers that will provide continuous antiretroviral medicine. Patients also have access to counselors who help them throughout the entire process.”

Across the globe, HIV is not merely a public health issue—it also affects the economy. With that in mind, the Rwanda Private Sector Federation (PSF) invited AHF Rwanda and its partners to educate over 250,000 attendees at the fair.

The testing outreach was paired with message on the importance of awareness and prevention through radio talk shows and media interviews.

“I was very happy to know my status after AHF gave me a free HIV test,” said AHF client Ngiruwinsanga Zephanie.  “This service is so important because if someone tests positive, they can start treatment right away and know they are going to be okay.”

AHF Rwanda currently provides care and treatment to 23,681 clients and has been working in the country since 2006.