Rwanda: First PEPFAR ART Patient: A Life Transformed (August 2006)


In 2005, 15,900 people were treated with antiretroviral treatment (ART) in Rwanda with support from the U.S. President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR). One beneficiary of PEPFAR support is Eleda Mukamurara, who became the first ART patient in Rwanda treated with U.S. Government support.

Before Eleda began ART, she was extremely ill and had begun to lose hope. Eleda weighed just 37kg (81 lbs), needed a stick to walk, and was battling tuberculosis. In 2003, Eleda turned to the Biryogo Community Clinic for treatment and care.

At the Biryogo Community Clinic, the Emergency Plan supports training for the nurses who care for patients on ART. The clinic is considered a model for community health care in Rwanda. The thorough follow-up provided by the nurses has resulted in patients with very high adherence to ART. The nurses and doctor offer in-house training for other health workers, who generally come and work at the clinic for two or three weeks and then return to their health centers with lessons learned.

For Eleda, PEPFAR support for the Biryogo Community Clinic meant that she was seen by a nurse every day for the first six weeks of her treatment. The daily visits helped Eleda adjust to the discipline of taking antiretroviral drugs each day. After six weeks, Eleda only visited the clinic once a week, and within six months she was showing a marked improvement.

With new confidence, Eleda became involved with an association of people living with HIV/AIDS. In addition to providing members with an opportunity to support one another, the association also provides members with nutritional support through food rations. Eleda shares her love of life with association members and people at the clinic who have recently found out that they are HIV-positive. "I tell them, look at me! I am well. Don't worry; you can be healthy and carry on with your lives."


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