Rwanda Uses Art to Tackle HIV Stigma


A new project to address HIV stigma through visual and street arts has been launched in Rwanda.

The project named Kurema, Kureba, Kwiga which loosely translates to ‘To Create, To See, To Learn’ will use “public art to start conversations, share personal experiences, and soften perspectives [around HIV],” said Judith Kaine – the brains behind the initiative.

Through art, we can engage civil society and address stigma and discrimination, all while putting more color and positive health messages into the everyday lives of Rwandans,” she added.

The project, which has been made possible by a partnership between Ivuka Arts Kigali, Rwanda Biomedical Centre (RBC), Kigali Hope Association, will bring together contemporary Rwandan artists and young people living with HIV. Both groups will work together to ensure the larger society has a better understanding of what “living positively” means in Rwanda.

Authorities behind the project organized several creative workshops this month where several youths affected by the virus created ‘public’ and ‘street art’ based on a variety of themes related to “living positively.” These works of art will be exhibited during the project’s formal launch on November 23.

“The exhibition, this weekend, will surely be a thought-provoking and fun event that will help the project raise funds to continue making works of public art in Kigali and beyond,” said Kaine.

“The project has been well received by partners in the government and in the local and international community, garnering interest from the United Nations, embassies, and the support of many businesses,” she added.

After the launch, the organizers will carry out a variety of new public art installations including a mural on the side of the RBC building in preparation for World Aids Day on December 1.

Three percent of the adult population in Rwanda is infected with HIV. The country’s current National Strategic Plan on HIV and AIDS (NSP) encourages all stakeholders to “take on more complex and controversial strategies” towards ensuring better access to treatment services for those living with HIV and eliminating social and economic stigma.