EU calls for con­certed ef­forts in HIV fight

Lesotho Times - - News - Mot­samai Mokotjo

EURO­PEAN Union (EU) Am­bas­sador Michael Doyle says the bloc is com­mit­ted to step­ping up the pace in the fight against HIV/AIDS in through a range of pro­grammes and ac­tiv­i­ties.

Dr Doyle made the re­marks dur­ing the EU Del­e­ga­tion’s HIV/AIDS Aware­ness Rais­ing Day held on Tues­day at the em­bassy of­fices in Maseru. He said this year’s theme, “Step­ping up the pace in the fight against HIV/AIDS”, had been cho­sen to “serve as a re­minder to ev­ery­one to in­crease the mo­men­tum in the fight against HIV/AIDS”.

The am­bas­sador said the HIV/AIDS Aware­ness Rais­ing Day demon­strated the EU’S com­mit­ment in the global fight against HIV/AIDS.

“This year marks the fifth con­sec­u­tive year that we hold an EU HIV/AIDS aware­ness rais­ing day. As in pre­vi­ous years, we have made avail­able vol­un­tary coun­selling and test­ing,” said Dr Doyle.

“Know­ing your sta­tus is very im­por­tant as a per­son di­ag­nosed with HIV can re­ceive anti-retro­vi­ral treat­ment and is less likely to trans­mit the virus to oth­ers.”

He said the EU was one of the main sup­port­ers of the Global Fund to fight AIDS, Tu­ber­cu­lo­sis and Malaria. It also funded the Ap- parel Le­sotho Al­liance to Fight AIDS (ALAFA) project to the tune of €3 mil­lion (M45 mil­lion) to mit­i­gate the im­pact of HIV/AIDS on the em­ploy­ees of the tex­tile industry.

“In ad­di­tion to the Global Fund and the ALAFA project, the EU’S other con­tri­bu­tion in the fight against HIV/AIDS has been through its sup­port to the Child Grants Pro­gramme run by the Min­istry of So­cial De­vel­op­ment with the tech­ni­cal as­sis­tance of UNICEF,” said Dr Doyle. “This pro­gramme pro­vides for child grants and ac­com­pa­ny­ing ac­tiv­i­ties that cover the ar­eas of health, nu­tri­tion, ed­u­ca­tion, food se­cu­rity and HIV preven­tion, with many of the ben­e­fi­cia­ries be­ing or­phans and vul­ner­a­ble chil­dren.”

In a speech read on her be­half by the Min­istry of Health’s Di­rec­tor Pri­mary Health­care Thabelo Ra­mat­lapeng, the min­istry’s Di­rec­tor-gen­eral Dis­ease Con­trol Nyane Letsie said gov­ern­ment and other stake­hold­ers were work­ing to es­tab­lish a co­or­di­nated re­sponse to the HIV and TB epi­demics.

“HIV and AIDS con­tinue to pose a threat to Le­sotho’s eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment, with the high­est HIV in­ci­dence and preva­lence in the world,” said Dr Letsie.

“In 2012, the an­nual in­ci­dence was es­ti­mated at 2.47 per­cent among adults aged 15-49 years and HIV preva­lence at 23 per­cent. The preva­lence is higher in ur­ban (27.2 per­cent) com­pared to (21.1 per­cent) in ru­ral ar­eas.

“Among young peo­ple aged 20-24 years HIV preva­lence is es­ti­mated at 16.3 per­cent. The most af­fected age group is 30-39 years with the preva­lence of (+40 per­cent). Over­all HIV preva­lence is higher in women (26.7 per­cent) com­pared to men (18 per­cent).”

She said the chal­lenge lay in the fact that new HIV in­fec­tions of 17 000 an­nu­ally sur-

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