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Berea leads in HIV control programmes

Limpho Sello

BEREA is one of the best performing districts in HIV control through the Voluntary Medical Male Circumcision (VMMC) and Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP) programmes, the Jhpiego Lesotho district manager Khoboso Marame has said.

Jhpiego is an international, non-profit health organization affiliated with The Johns Hopkins University in the United States of America.

Jhpiego works with health experts, governments and community leaders to provide high-quality health care. It develops strategies to help countries care for themselves by training competent health care workers, strengthening health systems and improving delivery of care.

Jhpiego designs innovative, effective and low-cost health care solutions to ensure a level of care for women and their families. These practical, evidence-based interventions are breaking down barriers to high-quality health care for the world’s most vulnerable populations.

Jhpiego Lesotho district manager Khoboso Marame recently told the media that among the five districts that the organisation works in, Berea is one the best performing. She added that they have circumcised about 2 000 (20 percent) males against an 8 000 annual target while they now have 27 daily circumcisions against a target of 33 since last October.

Ms Marame said they have doubled efforts to fight the HIV epidemic at they provide services at one point.

On PrEP, Ms Marame said since last October, they have achieved 70 percent of the 2011 yearly target.

During a recent site visit at Mapoteng Hospital, Ms Marame said they work in various areas in the district where they target males and females aged from 15 to 29 years because they are the most vulnerable groups to HIV. She however, said for the VMMC they also cater for boys aged 10 to 14 years.

“To provide VMMC service for boys aged 10 to 14 years we work with Voluntary Community Advocates (VCA) who seek permission from parents door to door because we cannot circumcise males under the age of 18 years without parents’ permission,” Ms Marame said.

“As for those aged from 15 to 29 years, you will not see them during the day because they are shy to be seen coming here in daylight by their peers, so when it becomes darker, you will see them in large numbers.

“We also need educate women about the benefits of VMMC to their health. VMMC reduces the risk of cervical cancer in women. So, when they know that, they can encourage they partners to go and circumcise.”

She said at all their stations they have two tents; one for where for education and information about PrEP and the other one for HIV testing since it is mandatory to test for HIV before embarking onto PrEP.

“It is important for one to get all the information about PrEP because some people have the perspective that it is antiretroviral treatment since they are afraid of the side effects,” Ms Marame said.

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