Africa-Press – Lesotho. His Majesty King Letsie III has called for the “coordinated” efforts against the HIV/AIDS pandemic. This he said during the World AIDS Day (WAD) commemoration in Maseru yesterday.
WAD is celebrated under the theme “End Inequalities, End AIDS”. The Head of State pointed out that HIV/AIDS has “wreaked havoc” in the country. He said
it is “regrettable” that Lesotho is ranking second in the world as the country with the most HIV/AIDS prevalence. King Letsie III also registered his appreciation to the international community and
development partners who have been assisting Lesotho in the fight against this disease. The United States (US) Ambassador to Lesotho Rebecca Gonzales reflected on last year’s
achievement made by the country in attaining the joined United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) 90- 90-90 targets by achieving 90-97-92. The 90-90-90
targets mean that out of the people interviewed 90 per cent know their status, 90 are on their medication and 90 have their viral load suppressed. The US
Ambassador further highlighted that Lesotho is on the “cusp” of epidemic control as she vies for the achievement of remains on the UNAIDS 95-95-95 targets and “ultimately end HIV/AIDS as a national health threat”.
“Now, more than ever, Lesotho must adopt people-centred integrated approaches that
support the achievement of the next set of HIV targets. These new targets also include the addition of a subset of 10–10–10 targets for removing barriers to
create an enabling environment free of HIV-related stigma and discrimination. While there is still more work to do, there is also much to celebrate. “We
must be reminded of the tremendous progress we have made together in reversing the impact of the HIV/AIDS epidemic in Lesotho – even in the face of a global
pandemic and a period of [the] incredible strain on the country’s health systems,” she said. United Nations (UN) Acting Resident Coordinator Betty Wabunoha challenged the country
to do more in bringing about the “cutting-edge science” and to deliver inclusive services to meet everyone’s needs, protect human rights and sustain adequate financing.
“Despite having achieved so much, adolescent women and young girls, Basotho migrants to
South Africa, factory workers, sex workers, single women, uncircumcised men and other key populations bear the brunt of new infections. Men and children
continue to lag behind in testing and treatment. Men are more likely to know their status much later than women; more likely to start treatment late, or fall off treatment altogether, and are not achieving viral
suppression quickly enough,” she pointed. Lesotho Network of People Living with HIV and AIDS (LENEPWHA) Chairperson ‘Mamichael Mapesela appealed to the government to do away with the “inequalities” in the
public service. She said the people are reluctant to go to the health services where they are “discriminated” against. The LENEPWHA Chairperson said the medication should be available at health
facilities. She further said that the blood tests are delayed as a result of a lack of medical equipment. According to the Lesotho Population-based HIV Impact Assessment (LePHIA 2020) survey,
there are about 324 000 people living with HIV/AIDS in the country. The survey also points that there are about 5 000 new infections that are recorded
annually. WAD has been observed since 1988, the world has gathered to raise awareness on HIV/AIDS, reduce stigma and remember those who had died of this disease. The UNAIDS aspires for the end of the AIDS epidemic by 2030.
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