The Rwanda Zambia HIV Research Group is committed to supporting Couples Voluntary Counseling and Testing (CVCT) as an effective and economical way to decrease HIV/AIDS transmission throughout southern Africa. An estimated 70 percent to 90 percent of sexually transmitted HIV infections in southern Africa occur in couples who don’t realize that one partner is HIV (+) and the other is HIV (-). CVCT has been proven to reduce the transmission of HIV/AIDS by more than two-thirds among those couples who don’t share the same HIV status. Through our network of clinics in Rwanda and Zambia, we provide testing and compassionate counseling to couples, educating them about prevention and protection.
The Rwanda Zambia HIV Research Group (RZHRG) was founded by in 1986, with a mobile testing site outside the Centre Hospitalier Kigali (CHK) in Rwanda. Today, RZHRG maintains one of the largest cohorts of discordant heterosexual couples in the world.
In the first year of a research grant awarded to the founder of RZHRG in 1986, almost 4,000 women were tested at the clinic in Kigali. An initial cohort of almost 1500 women (both HIV+ and HIV-) was developed to study risk reduction and the natural history of HIV. Many of these women expressed an interest in knowing their spouse’s HIV status, and RZHRG began testing couples together. Most researchers in the medical community during that time believed that spouses would always share the same HIV status. However, RZHRG revealed that 14 percent of women were in a relationship in which their status differed from the status of their spouses.These initial research findings provided the foundation for the Rwanda Zambia HIV Research Group.
Forced to flee Rwanda in the wake of the 1994 genocide, RZHRG opened an additional research site providing CVCT services in Lusaka, Zambia. Ten years later a research clinic was established in the Copperbelt, the most populous region in Zambia. These research sites serve as a “headquarters” for local health clinics, which provide CVCT services on the weekends in addition to their weekly clinic duties.
DID YOU KNOW...
• RZHRG has provided Couples Voluntary Counseling and Testing to more than 250,000 couples.
• The research team at RZHRG has more than 25 years of experience conducting heterosexual HIV prevention research and prevention programs.
• An estimated 70 percent to 90 percent of sexually transmitted HIV infections in southern Africa occur in couples who don’t realize that one partner is HIV+ and the other is HIV-.