The government has of recent rolled out the third line of Anti-Retroviral (ARVs) treatment for HIV-positive persons who are facing resistance with the first and second line ARV treatment.
For each HIV infected person on third-line treatment, government spends $3,000 annually, according to Dr Sabin Nsanzimana, the coordinator of HIV and Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs) Care and Treatment Department at the Rwanda Biomedical Centre.
Dr Nsanzimana said the medication is quite expensive compared to the first two line treatments, which cost government $250 and $400 per patient annually.
“So far, we have around 50 HIV-infected people on the third line treatment. This treatment is world-approved, but very costly, yet there is a big number of people on ARVs–which government provides for free. People should, therefore, take their medication as prescribed,” he said.
Dr Nsanzimana added that this medication was initiated a year ago in Rwanda when they got cases of patients who were not responding to first- and second-line treatment regimens.
He noted that drug resistance is, however, very rare in the first and second line treatments unless there is non-adherence on the patients’ side.
It is reported that after third line treatment, there is no other option. However, research is currently being carried out on new HIV treatments.
HIV drug resistance can be acquired, in which resistance develops following an infected person’s poor adherence to treatment.
Resistance can also be transmitted when a person is infected with a drug-resistant strain of the virus.
The rate of new infections was at 25,000 people every year in Rwanda five years ago, but now it has gone down to 15,000 new infections every year. Every hour, two people get infected with HIV in Rwanda.
ARVs use now stands at 94 per cent from less than 30 per cent five years ago. More than 100,000 patients are on Anti-retroviral treatment.
The HIV/AIDS prevalence rate in the country is presently at 3.1 per cent among 15-49 age bracket.