Launch of an AIDS Free Mentored Integrated Empowered Project (AMIEP) in Rwanda

Posted on 18 December 2021

Covid-19 has disrupted all other disease control programs, making the most vulnerable even more vulnerable. The number of new HIV infections among women aged 15 to 24 is also very high in sub-Saharan Africa. They are twice as likely to be infected as men.

The overall goal of AMIEP (AIDS Free Mentored Integrated Empowered Project), which we launched a few weeks ago, is to reduce the disproportionate level of new HIV infections among at-risk girls, adolescents, and young women in Muhanga District.

The population of Muhanga is predominantly young with a larger female than the male population. While literacy rates and education levels are increasing, 19% of the female population has no education and only 2.9% of the female population has completed secondary school, compared to 3.1% of the male population.

Young people are often idle, especially since the ban on the manufacture of clay bricks and tiles was introduced to protect the marshes and the environment. Drugs and petty crime are one of the greatest dangers for young men, while young girls often resort to prostitution or informal work to survive. Early or unwanted pregnancies are also common. Poverty influences this likelihood, which will lead to a vicious cycle for young girls: motherhood at a young age compromises both their academic success and their chances of achieving a decent economic future.

In the AMIEP project, HIV reduction is not just about prevention activities or improving testing opportunities. Because the cause of their vulnerability to HIV is systemic, FXB’s response is also systemic, simultaneously addressing the interrelated biological, behavioral, and structural factors that create this vulnerability.

Thus, 700 girls, adolescents and young women, aged 10 to 24, will be adequately trained in sexual and reproductive health and made aware of HIV prevention. They will learn about their bodies, their sexual and reproductive health rights, and the choices they can make to protect their health and their physical and moral integrity. They will also learn about risk behaviors, how to identify abuse (including intergenerational relationships that are punishable in Rwanda, gender-based and/or sexual violence, including intimate partner or husband violence), how to refuse unwanted sex or negotiate safe sex to protect themselves from HIV and other STIs, and how to avoid early or unwanted pregnancy through condom use. Family planning and contraception will also be discussed. 

The youngest will resume or continue their primary and secondary education. They will be encouraged to complete their education and stay in school as long as possible. Education has been shown to greatly reduce vulnerabilities to HIV. Adolescent girls and young women will receive vocational and agricultural training, project management, financial literacy, and entrepreneurial skills. They will also join VSLA groups (Village Savings and Loans Associations) and will be helped to start an income-generating activity.

The combination of these different activities will allow reinforcing the global capacities of these 700 girls, adolescents and young women at risk. Informed, educated, and empowered, they will be able to look forward to an AIDS-free future and realize their full economic and social potential.

This program is conducted with the support of the City of Paris and the Michèle Berset Foundation

2021