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Queen launches HIV impact assessment


Her Majesty Queen ‘Masenate Mohato SeeisoLimpho Sello

QUEEN ‘Masenate Mohato Seeiso has called on Basotho to cooperate with researchers undertaking the Lesotho Population Based HIV Impact Assessment (LePHIA) to ensure the gathering of vital information in the fight against the pandemic.

Her Majesty made the remark while officially launching the programme on Thursday at Maseru Pitso Ground in her capacity as the matron of the Ministry of Health in children’s issues.

LePHIA is a door-to-door survey by the Ministry of Health in collaboration with ICAP, Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) and the Ministry of Development Planning through Bureau of Statistics.

The survey will provide HIV and health services to at least 16 000 individuals in 10 500 households that will be randomly selected.

LePHIA is part of a wider PHIA project where household-based population surveys will be conducted in 15 countries to collect information related to HIV.

Queen ‘Masenate Mohato Seeiso, who is the LePHIA Ambassador, said the survey would gauge the progress and allow for introspection on the shortcomings in the country’s fight against HIV/AIDS.

According to the Demographic and Health Survey (DHS) report released earlier this year, 25 percent of adults aged between 15-49 years in Lesotho are infected with HIV. The report also reveals that the HIV-prevalence rate is 30 percent among women and 19 percent among men, with Maseru topping all the districts at 28 percent.

Lesotho is second only to Swaziland in HIV infection rates in the world with 26 percent.

“We all know that we have tried to reduce the HIV and AIDS infections in the country and we have recently launched the Test and Treat strategy,” Queen ‘Masenate Mohato Seeiso said

“It would be good to know the progress made. This can be achieved when we have correct and accurate statistics through the LePHIA initiative.”

The “Test and Treat” strategy is aimed at ensuring that every person who tests positive for HIV is given immediate treatment. It was launched by Prime Minister Pakalitha Mosisili in April this year to increase treatment coverage, improve life expectancy and health outcomes for all people living with HIV.

Her Majesty said statistics on Orphans and Vulnerable Children (OVCs) living with the virus were imperative to ensure they can receive assistance.

“It is important to note that that we need the statistics of Orphans and Vulnerable Children (OVCs) living with HIV from the ages 0 to 14 years old. These are vulnerable children who never got the opportunity to be born at health facilities or even visit them,” she said.

Queen ‘Masenate Mohato Seeiso appealed to Basotho to cooperate with researchers as the programme would assist the country with vital information needed in strategies to improve the of the country’s HIV ranking.

For his part, US Ambassador Matthew Harrington said his government had assisted Lesotho in its fight against HIV by committing more than US$300 million.

“To make sure our efforts are successful, we need high quality reliable data. We need to know how many people are living with HIV, how many of those are on treatment and how many have viral loads that are suppressed,” Ambassador Harrington said.

“That information will help us track how much progress is being made towards ending the epidemic and how to target our programs effectively to achieve that goal and that is where the PHIA project comes in.”

Ambassador Harrington said getting tested was the only way to know one’s HIV status.

“Unfortunately not all Basotho know their status and this prevents them from getting treatment that will ensure they live full and healthy lives and prevent the transmission of the virus to their loved ones,” he said.

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