Maximise HIV research
HIV/Aids research institutions should align their studies with specific realities on the ground if they are to make a bigger and quicker impact, the First Lady, Jeanette Kagame, has said.
Mrs Kagame was speaking in Kigali yesterday at the Silver Jubilee celebrations of Project San Francisco (PSF), an HIV/Aids research and counselling organisation.
“Most times across the African continent, results attained in research settings are not necessarily implemented, or worse still, implementable in the field with the speed and effectiveness required to bring a meaningful impact,” she said.
“Against a backdrop of limited financial and human resources globally, the question remains; what else can we do that we have not already done before? What can we change to narrow the gap between the laboratory and the field?
“Therefore, let us re-evaluate the structures or systems that slow down HIV response and innovatively and boldly make the requisite changes to enable these structures respond better to the expectations of an increasingly aware community”.
The First Lady recognised the contribution made by Project San Francisco in the fight against HIV/Aids, particularly by focusing on voluntary counselling and testing for couples.
“What began as a humble effort in Kigali 25 years ago, has grown to become an international advocate for affordable and effective HIV prevention, a world leader in vaccine development efforts and a respected partner in global health,” Mrs. Kagame said.
“Couples’ counselling, which is internationally recognised as a sure means of HIV prevention, was introduced in Rwanda by PSF over 20 years ago and has gone a long way in helping Rwandans to fight against this pandemic,” she said.
In her remarks, PSF Founder, Dr Susan Allen, underscored the importance of affordable and effective HIV prevention initiatives, particularly in the face of budget cuts in many countries.
“Until an effective HIV vaccine is found, prevention of new infections in adults must rely on behavioural interventions such as voluntary testing and counselling, and that is what we, at Project San Francisco, major in – an effective prevention strategy. The initiative has had a great impact on Rwandans,” Dr Allen said.
Founded in 1986 in Rwanda, the organisation is recognised for its leadership in HIV vaccine development, having launched Rwanda’s first HIV vaccine trial in 2005 and is currently conducting two other trials.
Contact email: ivan.mugisha[at]newtimes.co.rw