Around the world, an estimated 38.4 million people still live with HIV, making it one of the most important global public health issues in recorded history. The U.S. government leads the way in this fight, having committed more resources to fight HIV/AIDS than has ever been applied to any disease in history. Since 2003, the United States has invested more than $100 billion in training, management, and medical care, and worked with countries around the world to get the HIV/AIDS pandemic under control, resulting in 21 million saved lives. Rwanda is a success story among the countries receiving U.S. support in the fight against HIV/AIDS. Over the last 25 years, new HIV infections were reduced by 82 percent and AIDS deaths reduced by 86 percent. Consequently, life expectancy of people living with HIV on treatment increased by 25.6 years.
Currently, there are about a quarter of a million infected people in Rwanda, with almost 210,000 of those actively being treated. Fully half of those individuals receive treatment through the U.S. program U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR). In Rwanda, PEPFAR, the Center for Disease Control (CDC), and other U.S. government agencies partner with the Rwandan Ministry of Health to strengthen the national HIV program. Due to the success of this program, HIV in Rwanda is no longer a death sentence, it is now a chronic disease, with people still able to live, work, and procreate without passing on the virus. The U.S. CDC also assists the Rwanda Field Epidemiology and Training Program, which trains disease detectives who investigate and identify patterns and causes of the disease and what can be done to provide effective control.
Additionally, the U.S. CDC conducted a sampling of the population to determine how many people in the country are HIV positive, how many have started the treatment and how many of them have reduced the virus load in their bodies so that they are no longer infectious. The results of these efforts confirmed the positive impact of HIV programming in various countries, including Rwanda. The preliminary results this study indicated that Rwanda as a nation surpassed the 90-90-90 goals of UNAIDS.
Building on this success, and with the continuing support of the U.S. government, Rwanda launched a new campaign to prevent new virus infections and promote access to treatment by 2030. The campaign focuses on meeting the UNAIDS goals of 95-95-95 to end HIV as a global threat where 95 percent of Rwandans know their status, 95 percent receive antiretroviral treatment and 95 percent attain viral load suppression by 2030. Over the last 15 years, Rwanda brought down new HIV infections by 56 percent, maintained the current prevalence rate at three percent and is on track to achieve the 2030 targets. Of the current estimated 210,000 people living with HIV, 94 percent are aware of their HIV status, 93 percent of them are on treatment, and 91 percent have a suppressed viral load.