THE non-governmental AIDS Health Care Foundation (AHF) says this year’s World AIDS Day commemorations will focus on intra-youth dialogue and music performances as part of efforts of finding ways of addressing the pandemic which has largely affected young people.
AHF is a Los Angeles-headquartered (United States of America) global nonprofit provider of HIV/AIDS prevention services, testing, and healthcare for HIV patients. It reportedly provides medical care and services to more than 600 000 individuals in 15 US states and 36 countries worldwide including Lesotho.
The organisation recently held a planning session in Maseru where AHF Country Programme Manager, Mapaballo ‘Mile, revealed that this year’s World AIDS Day commemorations would focus on generating dialogue among young people because it had come to their attention that the youth found it uncomfortable to talk about HIV/AIDS issues with older people.
“We are aware that communication between young people and adults is different from that which the former have among themselves hence we are suggesting that young people take part on this day to talk amongst themselves in order to find ways of controlling the high infection rate,” Ms Mile said.
“HIV/AIDS infection in Lesotho has spread largely since 1983 when people first learned about it. Unlike other countries who have been making major progress in its reduction, Lesotho has gotten rather worse.”
World AIDS Day is globally commemorated annually on 1 December and it provides an opportunity for people across the world to unite in the fight against HIV/AIDS, show their support for people living with HIV/AIDS and to commemorate people who have died from the condition.
Ms ‘Mile said they would rope in Botho University and other tertiary institutions for the local celebrations.
Despite numerous interventions and programmes by so many local and international organisations, Lesotho remains second to Swaziland in terms of HIV/AIDS prevalence rates in the world.
Ms Mile said they would redouble their efforts to change mindsets because Lesotho has not made much progress in reducing HIV/AIDS infections despite knowing about the pandemic for close to 40 years since it was first discovered in 1981.
“As part of our goals, we want to keep the focus on AIDS. In 2016, there were one million deaths. Two million new infections and 20 million people without treatment,” Ms Mile said adding that they needed to maintain a sense of urgency by getting as much media attention as possible.
She further said they hoped to reach the high risk population which included women, girls, men who have sex with men (MSM), sex workers, transgender and youth through the test and treat strategy.
Ms Mile also appealed for more funding for the fight against HIV/AIDS.