Rwanda leads in HIV treatment

News and Press Release
Originally published
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By Christabel Ligami Special Correspondent

Posted Friday, April 18 2014 at 17:35

In Summary

HIV prevalence in Rwanda is 2.9 per cent of the adult population.

Rwanda is the first country globally to achieve the universal coverage of HIV treatment under the World Health Organisation (WHO) guidelines of 2009.

The achievement of universal HIV coverage has since resulted in more than half of HIV diagnoses and annual incidence falling by 90 per cent.

This year, it is estimated that 93 per cent of people living with diagnosed HIV with CD4 counts below 350 in the country are on antiretroviral therapy (ART).

However, Edward Mills of the British Columbia Centre for Excellence in HIV/Aids, which runs a clinic in Rwanda, said coverage is still patchy, with some centres reporting 80 per cent coverage of all diagnosed people and others only 20 per cent.

“One particularly challenging area is the slums and informal settlements on the outskirts of the capital, Kigali, where there are high levels of migrant workers and refugees from the war in the neighbouring Democratic Republic of Congo,” said Dr Mills.

HIV prevalence in Rwanda is 2.9 per cent of the adult population.

“This is already having a dramatic effect on HIV diagnoses and incidence in the country,” noted Dr Mills adding that about 37,000 people tested positive for HIV in 2007. The numbers were down to 23,000 and 13,000 in 2011 and last year respectively.

Rwanda is considering moving to treating people with CD4 counts under 500 cells/mm3, in accordance with the 2013 WHO guidelines.

Research shows that increased coverage would cost Rwf8.5 billion over five years, but that it would save Rwf18.2 billion because of fewer deaths and infections, a net gain of Rwf9.8 billion.