Dr. Givano Kashemwa Migabo, program manager for Global Strategies in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, was awarded the AIDS 2020 Women, Girls, and HIV Investigators’ Prize at the twenty-third Annual International AIDS Conference.
Dr. Kashemwa won the prize for a paper he presented at the virtual conference about a data-collection tool that tracks the use of post-exposure prophylactics, or PEP, antiretroviral medication taken immediately after potential exposure to HIV to prevent infection. The tool was developed by Global Strategies, which empowers communities to improve the lives of women and children through healthcare, and the Panzi Foundation, an organization founded by Nobel laureate and world-renowned gynecologist Dr. Denis Mukwege, who has treated thousands of victims of sexual violence. By tracking the use of PEP in real time, it is possible to quickly ascertain the degree of sexual violence committed in a conflict zone and coordinate the response, ensuring victims have timely access to treatment and care.
Dr. Kashemwa shares the award with Jacqueline Wambui Mwangi, a researcher from Nairobi, Kenya.
Sexual violence is used as a strategic weapon of war
Since the First Congo War began in 1996, various rebel groups active in the eastern DRC have used sexual violence as a strategic weapon of war. Tens of thousands of women, girls, and young men have suffered abuse. Such violence not only inflicts horrific mental trauma on the victims but also contributes to the deterioration of public health as sexually transmitted diseases spread among populations that are already vulnerable, such as refugees and internally displaced people.