Youth first!

New HIV infections among young people and a rising number of unwanted early pregnancies are jeopardizing the future of Rwanda’s youth. Young people, HIV positive and negative, need to be empowered to take control over their body and health. RRP+ decided to increase its efforts in promoting sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) for youth in general and young people living with HIV (YLHIV) in particular.

By the end of 2017, RRP+ contributed to comprehensive sexual education of around 1300 school-going youth at Kagarama Academy school and Lycee de Kigali.  Two half-day events were organized in collaboration with the Young Women Mentors Network (YWMNet) to address topics like the taboo to talk about sex, the importance of consensual sex, gender equity, myths around sex and sexuality, prevention of HIV and early pregnancies and the rights of PLHIV.  Students reflected on what SRHR mean for their future and achieving their dreams and a testimony was given by a young member of RRP+. The health clubs of both schools contributed by performing a sketch to pass key messages about SRHR and discrimination of PLHIV. The event was animated by music and a dance competition and ended with a quiz to test the acquired knowledge about SRHR of the students. (See the full report here.)

This year, the promotion of sexual and reproductive health and rights among youth will continue with the support of GIZ. First of all, 64 young peer educators in 5 districts will be trained and coached to provide adequate information, psycho-social support and advice that is easily accessible and well adapted to the actual needs and concerns of young people. Secondly, community debates will be organized to break the taboo to talk about sex and to reduce stigmatization of youth living with and without HIV (for example stigma against girls that look for condoms or other contraceptive methods). Finally, health service provides, authorities and other stakeholders will be provided with recommendations on how to adapt sexual and reproductive health services to better reach youth and respond to their needs, based on the experiences RRP+ will gain in the coming months. The activities will be implemented in Kicukiro, Gasabo, Rwamagana, Kayonza and Ruhango, as in these districts HIV prevalence among young women is high.