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APHA Scientific Session and Event Listing

Rwandan women's dreams and hopes dashed: Dying from HIV/AIDS after surviving the genocide

Anathalie Mukagasana, AM student, School of Health, University of Norhtern Iowa, 220 Wellness and Recreation Center, Cedar Falls, IA 50614, (319) 273-6411, sugira@uni.edu

Issue: Rwandan women survivors of the genocide face many challenges, chief among them HIV/AIDS. Some 800,000 to 1,000,000 men and women were killed during the genocide; perpetrators spared some women and kept them for sex slavery, rape, humiliation, and torture. Existing data show that AIDS has been on the rise since the genocide. In 2003, UNAIDS reported that 130,000 Rwandan women age 15-49 were living with AIDS. Women with HIV/AIDS are stigmatized in their community and are considered social outcasts with little hope or support.

Description: An analysis is being conducted of available data on Rwandan women living in the aftermath of violence committed against them during the Rwandan genocide. The analysis includes qualitative research through testimonies from 10 Rwandan female survivors who are exiles in the United States.

Lesson Learned: Preliminary analysis indicates that post-genocide Rwandan women need medical and psychological care. In addition to lacking education, they must cope with living with HIV/AIDS. Although 48.8% of Rwanda's parliamentarians are women, this has had little impact on the changes promoting empowerment of surviving women with HIV/AIDS.

Recommendations: To combat HIV/AIDS and other health issues, the Rwandan government must make an effort to provide free basic education for all children and women survivors, including those infected with HIV/AIDS. Women's support groups-- Statistics show that Rwandan women survivors are working together to support themselves--can serve as a liaison to provide them with adequate resources, education, medical care, and counseling.

Learning Objectives:

Keywords: War, Women and HIV/AIDS

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Not Answered

Perspectives on HIV/AIDS & Sexual Issues

The 134th Annual Meeting & Exposition (November 4-8, 2006) of APHA