Rwanda considers long-lasting injection to ease HIV/AIDS medication burden

By Esther Muhozi
On 1 December 2023 at 03:04

Dr. Nsanzimana Sabin, the Minister of Health, has unveiled a groundbreaking approach aimed at easing the burden on individuals undergoing antiretroviral therapy for HIV/AIDS. This innovative strategy involves the exploration of a long-lasting injection, offering relief for a duration of three to six months and providing an alternative to the daily pill regimen.

The challenge of adherence to daily medication is recognized, with some individuals facing difficulties in following the prescribed regimen, leading to deviations or discontinuation of treatment.

According to figures from the Rwanda Biomedical Centre (RBC), the number of patients taking antiretroviral drugs in Rwanda currently stands at 218,314.

RBC’s data highlights a positive response to treatment, with 95% of patients actively using retroviral drugs and 90% displaying positive changes in HIV severity. Access to medications has been extended to all health centers across the country.

On the occasion of International AIDS Day on November 30, 2023, Minister Dr. Nsanzimana acknowledged the challenges faced by individuals taking antiretroviral drugs for over two decades.

He hinted at the potential introduction of a long-lasting injection as an alternative to the daily dose.

Expressing the desire to transition from daily medication to a more convenient injection administered over several months, Dr. Nsanzimana emphasized the potential comfort it could provide to long-term antiretroviral drug users, preventing monotony.

He encouraged those currently on medication to adhere to their daily routine until the new injection method is implemented, expressing hope for its prompt introduction through collaborative efforts with the government and partners.

Dr. Nsanzimana highlighted the significant progress in changing perceptions of HIV infection, emphasizing that individuals with the virus can now lead fulfilling lives. He underscored the importance of protecting the youth, as they are the future leaders, workers, and parents. Current new infection rates stand at 0.08%, with 35% of these cases occurring among the youth.

The Rwanda Network of People Living with HIV/AIDS (RRP) emphasized the positive shift in societal attitudes towards HIV-infected individuals. The organization cited the active involvement of 500 cooperatives and 756 supporting organizations in development initiatives, fostering empowerment and inclusivity.