Our primary mission is to increase women’s and children’s access to primary health care and treatment in resource-limited settings at the grassroots level. We are committed to a locally driven, collaborative model of primary health care and treatment provision—one in which high quality clinical care, psycho-social support, poverty-mitigation, capacity-building and self-advocacy are all key elements in achieving the highest possible attainment of physical and mental health for our patients.
In the 100-day genocide of 1994, an estimated 250,000 Rwandan women experienced multiple episodes of brutal rape, torture and violence. Many of these women contracted HIV, likely as a result of this brutality. In late 2003, survivors learned that the perpetrators of their rapes, who were jailed while waiting trial at the International Tribunal, were receiving antiretroviral therapy (ART)—while the women they had infected died of AIDS. Women’s Equity in Access to Care and Treatment for HIV (WE-ACTx) was created in early 2004 in response to a request from these women for help in accessing ART. Working collaboratively with five local genocide survivors associations, the Rwandan Ministry of Health and the Rwandan National AIDS Program, WE-ACTx founding members mobilized resources to develop a treatment program for the survivors. The first patients received comprehensive primary care by June of 2004. Since then, our programs have expanded in both size and scope, but our deep commitment to helping Rwandan survivors of genocidal rape and sexual violence, and empowering HIV-infected and affected women and children to take charge of their lives and become leaders in the fight against AIDS, guides our vision and continuing efforts.
Women’s Equity in Access to Care and Treatment is an international community-based HIV/AIDS initiative operating in the East African nation of Rwanda. Our two locally-staffed clinical sites offer highly-integrated medical and psycho-social services, free of charge, for 2,250 patients living with HIV. Since we began in 2003, our programs have expanded to include confidential testing, nutritional support, and prevention of mother to child transmission, as well as the administration of several ongoing research studies. In addition to providing individual counseling and cognitive-behavioral therapy, we offer specialized support groups for teens, young mothers, survivors of sexual and domestic violence, and men living with HIV. Our youth support groups, which serve 600 children and teens, are facilitated by indigenous young adult leaders from the WE-ACTx clinic. WE-ACTx has also organized four income-generation cooperatives, an annual youth summer camp, and yoga classes for children and adults. As of 2013, a dedicated team of Rwandan health care providers operate these programs as their own local NGO, WE-ACTx for Hope, with the support of WE-ACTx, grassroots community partners and Rwandan government health agencies.