Lesotho not keeping up pace to fight HIV/AIDS, US Ambassador Birx

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Maseru – Lesotho is not keeping up pace with other southern African countries to reduce an incidence of HIV/AIDS.

At a media teleconference hosted by the Africa Media Hub of the United States, Ambassador-at-Large and Coordinator of the United States Government Activities to Combat HIV/AIDS, Deborah L. Birx, M.D. said Lesotho should find out why other countries are advancing in their efforts to reduce an increase of HIV/AIDS.

Ambassador Birx agreed that HIV/AIDS patients should stay on treatment as part of life saving initiative, adding that high numbers of infected persons should call for efforts to stem the tide against HIV/AIDS pandemic.

She said although there is a shortage of resources, the journalists should understand the risks the people in the world are facing and called for working together by different partners to transform plans into action in Africa.

Birx said the US government was mobilizing resources to fight the HIV/AIDS in highest hit areas while governments are encouraged to stop stigma and discrimination associated with HIV/AIDS that impact on human rights.

The U.S. commitment to fight and control the spread of HIV/AIDS is run as the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR).

The relief has committed about US$220 million to control the spread of HIV/AIDS among the adolescent girls and young women in order for them to have a programme that addresses their needs for an HIV/AIDS free generation.

According to Birx messages about the prevention of HIV/AIDS should be packaged for young women so that information dissemination is turned into action.

Again, Birx noted that millions of children were dying due to the infection, requiring nations to accelerate any actions for treatment of pregnant mothers.

She called upon the civil society, church-based organizations, the private sector and the government to work together in order to support initiatives to reach countries in making successful programmes.

According to U.S Embassy Lesotho PEPFAR Coordinator Reuben said efforts were required to ensure people have ccess to treatement, adding that people are scared to test making it hard to determine their HIV/AIDS status. He advised that a major focus should also be stepped up on HIV positive people.

According to PEPFAR , there has been no significant change in Lesotho’s national adult HIV prevalence. Of the 360,000 Basotho infected, half of them are women, 10 per cent children while 63 per cent of them are people who need treatment but are not accessing it.

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