The jab which is under trial is one of the scientific advances in the field of HIV as well as strategies to end AIDS, according to the Rwandan ministry of health.
Details about the drug are yet to be made public, but the trial was discussed at the 20th International Conference on Aids Sexually Transmitted Diseases in Africa (Icasa) in Kigali, which kicked off on Monday - Saturday.
If successful, the jab will be a major break through and will go a long way in simplifying the lives of HIV patients not only in Rwanda but in Africa.
Dr Sabin Nsanzimana, the Director-General of Rwanda Biomedical Centre (RBC), said the country is optimistic.
“Different sessions will be held including a specific session on the trial of the 8-week injection among others. We look forward to Rwanda gaining more from it.” Newtimes, quoted Nsanzimana as saying.
Sub-Saharan Africa is home to about 12% of the global population, yet IT accounts for 61% of the global burden of HIV infection.
Ten African countries, mostly in southern and eastern Africa, which include; South Africa (25%), Nigeria (13%), Mozambique (6%), Uganda (6%), Tanzania (6%), Zambia (4%), Zimbabwe (6%), Kenya (6%), Malawi (4%) and Ethiopia (3%), account for almost 80% of all people living with HIV.
WHO reports that the number of people living with HIV globally has risen steadily from 7.9 million in 1990, to 37.9 million today. However, thanks to increased HIV treatment coverage, deaths have decreased from 1.7 million in 2005, to 770,000 in 2018. About 23 million people (61% of people living with HIV) accessed HIV treatment in 2018.
Rwanda has made significant gains in the fight against the HIV epidemic. Today, over 90% of all people living with HIV in Rwanda know their status and almost all of them are on life-saving treatment. Of those, 90 per cent have achieved viral suppression, according to the Ministry of Health.
Speaking during a meeting in Kigali during the AIDS conference, Rwandan president Paul Kagame said importance of open dialogue as a means to address and prevent HIV/AIDS and sexually transmitted infections cannot be overstated.
“Open dialogue saves lives. When it comes to sexually-transmitted infections, stigma and silence are real killers, just as much as the underlying viruses. Shame discourages people living with HIV from learning and accepting their status and accessing the healthcare needed to live a full life,” said Kagame.
The Head of State indicated that open dialogue is critical when it comes to fighting stigma and silence that people with sexually transmitted infections go through.
“ICASA exists in order to break down the taboos that impede prevention and early treatment. You are the ones to speak loudly, and clearly. We have come too far in this struggle, to do otherwise,” he added.
The opening was attended by the President of Mozambique, Filipe Nyusi, as well as First Lady Jeannette Kagame alongside First Ladies from Botswana, Chad, the Republic of Congo, Ghana and Niger.
Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General of the World Health Organisation (WHO), Professor John Idoko, President of ICASA; Winnie Byanyima, Executive Director of UNAIDS; Peter Sands, Executive Director of the Global Fund to fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, as well as thousands of delegates were also present.
Ghebreyesus commended Rwanda’s progress towards the fight against the HIV epidemic, highlighting the country as one of the few countries to achieve the 90-90-90 targets prior to 2020.
“Even better, millions of people are NOT on treatment because they have the tools to protect themselves. We’ve accelerated research and development. We’ve pushed back the boundaries of science and are now in hot pursuit of a cure,” he said.
President Nyusi of Mozambique commended Rwanda’s progress towards the fight against HIV/AIDS, adding his presence aimed to draw lessons from the kind of good practices deployed elsewhere to fight the HIV epidemic.
“In addition to drawing experience, we have come to Kigali to reaffirm the determination of our Government to combat the HIV/AIDS epidemic and proliferation of infectious diseases,” he noted.