The Chief Executive Officer of the National AIDS Commission (NAC), Ms. Lebohang Mothae says the new HIV and AIDS infection rate is high amongst young people between 15-34 years of age.
She said this at the HIV/AIDS strategy dialogue meeting held in Maseru on Tuesday.
Ms. Mothae said the objectives of the meeting are to revisit the NAC mandate, involvement of multi-sectoral stakeholders/implementing partners in informing the new HIV and AIDS National Strategic Plan, also closing the gaps in the overall response/ending inequalities.
She said a team of local and international consultants has been commissioned to facilitate this exercise through a multi-sectorial consultative process.
She noted that the new strategy document will be built on the country’s success and address the gaps and weaknesses of the national response and take advantage of the opportunities to scale up effective and high-impact interventions in line with national, regional, and global perspectives.
She disclosed that the plan will also boost the multi-sectorial response, strengthen community-led responses, apply a gender and human rights lens as well as maintain and sustain the gains made throughout the years.
She noted that they are still advocating for education about HIV so that they can go to clinics and take the medication in order to live longer because HIV is not a death sentence.
She lamented that unemployment and poverty in communities also contribute to people not living healthily which leads to avoidance of medication or going to clinics to seek help.
She explained that also to seek help from different communities on how to help with issues of gender especially men as they are still lacking in terms of seeking medical help or understanding about HIV/AIDS.
In conclusion, she said there are communities that respond well in terms of accepting HIV/AIDS issues, stressing that they should be helped well by looking at their different and unique circumstances.
On the same token, the Coordinator of HIV/AIDS activities in the Ministry of Local Government, Chieftainship, Home Affairs, and Police, Mr. Malefetsane Nkhabu said the main objective is to make sure that in the next five years, the country will be free from HIV/AIDS and there will be no new infections.
Mr. Nkhabu said despite the ambitious target of ensuring that there are longer new infections, some people do not take their medication nor go to clinics to seek help.
He noted that Lesotho has made commendable progress in HIV response, but the challenge remains to reduce new infections and deaths relating to HIV and address inequalities.
He further noted that community empowerment and engagement ensure the success of the HIV response.
Stakeholders were divided into groups to discuss issues hindering the success of the HIV response and give recommendations.
Distributed by APO Group on behalf of Government of Lesotho.