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HIV/AIDS stakeholders elevate 2020 prevention road map

Aug. 24, 2019 5 min read

MASERU - HIV/ AIDS stakeholders on August 23 convened in Maseru to deliberate on HIV prevention 2020 road map with the aim to accelerate HIV prevention to reduce new infections by 75 percent.

Speaking at the event, United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) Country Representative Dr. Marc Derveeuw said he was aware that in 2014, Lesotho made a deliberate effort to revitalize HIV prevention through efforts led by the HIV Prevention Technical Working Group, which developed a ‘Call for Action and Declaration of Commitment’ on July 30 2014, leading to intensified effort to revitalize HIV prevention and have it back on the radar.

He said he was also cognizant of that fact that Lesotho, with other member states in June 2016 in a high Level UN Assembly meeting, further made a political commitment “On the Fast Track of Accelerating the Fight against HIV and to ending the AIDS epidemic by 2030” and that the Latest commitment that the Government of Lesotho has made is being signatory to the Global Prevention Coalition and the launching of the National HIV Prevention 2020 Roadmap in 2018.

He stated that the HIV/AIDS stakeholders forum therefore also have to put emphasis on elevating HIV Prevention amongst others, in order to operationalize these important commitments and the milestones set saying these forums are also anticipated to be platforms for information sharing, advocacy and collation of all HIV/AIDS initiatives and programmes in the country, highlighting initiatives or programmes in terms of thematic area and geographical coverage.

Furthermore, Dr. Derveeuw noted that the forum should generate the evidence on HIV prevention for programmatic decision making, as will be seen with the HIV Capacity assessment and Technical Assessment presentation and the Comprehensive HIV Package for Key Populations that will be made later.

He added that HIV prevention forms part of UNFPA's four priority areas in the Eastern and Southern Region and in Lesotho in particular as they work towards four transformative results; ending preventable maternal deaths, ending unmet need for family planning, ending gender based violence and harmful practices and ending transmissible infections including HIV.

He mentioned that the objectives of this forum have been well articulated as well as some key issues regarding HIV Prevention in Lesotho applauding the Government of Lesotho for being signatory to the Global Prevention Coalition and committing to the HIV Prevention 2020 Road Map revitalize the prevention thematic area.

However, he added that HIV prevention seemed to have fallen into cracks due to more emphasis on HIV treatment as part of the country’s investment case.

He said the scope of the response had always been inadequate to address the diverse sources and drivers of the epidemic with limited comprehensive prevention packages that could make a significant and recognizable dent in the new Infections indicating that there had been slow progress in the prevention of new infections.

“We are perturbed by the high HIV Prevalence of 25.6 percent and the high HIV incidence rate of 1.2 percent in females and 1.0 percent in males, translating to estimated 10,000 new infections annually among ages 15-59 as per LePHIA 2017 report. I am given to understand that the most affected populations with new infections are adolescent girls and young women with the key drivers being female sex workers and men who have sex with other men as well as transgenders”, he said.

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He therefore urged the Government of Lesotho and all partners to put emphasis on high impact interventions as per the HIV prevention 2020 Road Map from the national, district and community levels in the following areas to reduce transmission of new infections; combination Prevention Packages for Key Populations, combination Prevention Packages for Adolescent Girls and young People, Voluntary Medical Male Circumcision, comprehensive Condom Programming, and PrEP (Pre Exposure Prophylaxis).

“In the implementation of the above interventions, we should aim to leave no one behind even the farthest to reach and also ensure that we include integrated Sexual Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) and HIV prevention services. It would be remiss of me not to mention that this year marks the 25 years of the International Conference on International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) and 50 years since the establishment of UNFPA. To mark these two major milestones, the Government of the Republic of Kenya and the Kingdom of Denmark, together with UNFPA, are convening the Nairobi Summit on ICPD25: Accelerating the Promise, which will take place from 12 to 14 November 2019 in Nairobi, Kenya”, he added.

He explained that the summit was intended to galvanize change and mobilize leadership in addressing emerging challenges related to the ICPD Programme of Action, HIV included. He said in preparation to this summit, Lesotho, like other countries would make a national commitment on advancing the ICPD agenda, expressing hope that HIV, and in particular HIV prevention would feature highly in the commitment, which would have been made by Lesotho to ensure that HIV prevention also featured highly in the commitment.

He further highlighted that collaborative and coordinated efforts in the prevention thematic area had proven in many countries to yield positive efforts by also reducing the fiscal burden on the economy when less people are put on treatment saying he therefore believes that collectively they can end AIDS by 2030 and as the saying goes, “the panacea to epidemic control is closing the tap of new infections.”

The Country Representative indicated that as UNFPA, they pledged their commitment and support to the Government of Lesotho in ensuring that HIV prevention interventions were implemented both financially and technically and called on the Government to also commit to HIV Prevention.

At the same event, Key Populations Champion Dr. Karabo Mokobocho Mohlakoana said key populations were people who are observed as high risk and it does not matter the spaces they occupied saying however that key populations are very important to dynamics in prevention of HIV.

She said in order for the country to make progress it was imperative to make introduction of services like comprehensive packages saying mindsets have to change when dealing with key populations highlighting that stigma, discrimination still play a major role in them not coming out to access services.

She said as Basotho they had to look at themselves as drivers of the pandemic especially with the prevalence rate this high.

On the other hand, National AIDS Commission (NAC) Chairperson Mrs. 'Maseabata Ramathebane said by 2030 Lesotho wishes to have fast-tracked ending AIDS pandemic.

She urged national leaders for stronger engagement and accountability for collaborative decision efforts. She added that Lesotho has invested a lot in intervention to end HIV pandemic. 'We should end AIDS as public health threat by 2030 especially as Lesotho is the second globally according to LEPHIA', she said.

Meanwhile reports have shown high HIV prevalence among factory workers with 43 percent, 31.4 percent of inmates and 33.9 percent with men having sex with other men to mention a few.


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