Rwanda Is On Track to Control HIV Epidemic, According to Survey Results

According to results from the Rwanda Population-based HIV Impact Assessment (RPHIA), 76% of all adults living with HIV in Rwanda have achieved viral load suppression.

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has announced that Rwanda has made tremendous progress towards controlling the HIV epidemic.

According to results from the Rwanda Population-based HIV Impact Assessment (RPHIA), 76% of all adults living with HIV in Rwanda have achieved viral load suppression. This figure surpasses the Joint United Nations Program on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) target of 73% by 2020.

Nationally, Rwanda has also made significant progress towards the 90-90-90 UNAIDS targets. When combining self-reported and laboratory data, 84% of adults living in Rwanda were aware of their status based on self-reporting or the detection of antiretrovirals (ART) in participants’ blood samples. Of the adults who knew their HIV status, 97.5% were on ART, based on self-reporting or ART detection in the blood. Of the adults using ART, 90.1% were found to have viral load suppression.

The preliminary results of the survey are reflective of the effort that Rwanda has put into establishing national HIV programs and policies with a focus on reducing new infections and providing linkage to care for people living with HIV.

“Rwanda has already reached and exceeded the global 2020 HIV targets, and this is a testament to the Government of Rwanda’s commitment to confronting its HIV epidemic,” noted Wafaa El-Sadr, MD, MPH, MPA, director of ICAP in the CDC’s statement. “The RPHIA results illustrate the importance of population-based surveys in measuring the progress and impact of national HIV programs and policies.”

The RPHIA survey was disseminated to more than 11,00 households from October 2018 through March 2019. The survey reached more than 30,000 adults aged 15-64 years, and more than 9000 adolescents aged 10-14 years.

When participants returned the survey, they were given access to home-based HIV testing and counseling and linkage to care for those who tested positive for HIV.

The preliminary results include information on the percentage of people living with HIV, the number of new HIV infections occurring each year, and the percentage of people with viral level suppression described by age, sex, and geographic variation.

Survey results also report that approximately 210,200 adults between the ages of 15-64 years in Rwanda were living with HIV (prevalence 3.0%). The prevalence was higher in women (3.7%) than men (2.2%) and 1.9 times higher in urban areas compared with rural areas.

Annually, the incidence of HIV was 0.08%, equating to approximately 5400 new cases per year in Rwanda. Among all adults living with HIV, 76% had suppressed viral loads. Women had higher rates of viral suppression (79.1%) than men (70.5%).

The full results of RPHIA will be released on October 22, 2019. According to the CDC, these results will dictate the future direction of Rwanda’s efforts to control the HIV epidemic and close existing gaps.