HIV pa­tients mark 10 years on treat­ment

Lesotho Times - - News - Lim­pho Sello

to wake up in the wee hours of the day and walk long dis­tances to find wa­ter.

“At times, I would spend three days with­out wa­ter be­cause I needed to get to a com­monly-used well very early to get the com­mod­ity,” Ms Ral­itabo said.

Some­times, she would go to Mo­tu­bat­sana River – about an hour’s walk from the vil­lage – to dig holes in the dry canal for wa­ter.

“We didn’t care whether it was clean or not. All we wanted was to find wa­ter to sur­vive. I am now the hap­pi­est per­son in this vil­lage. I never thought I would see the day when I would drink wa­ter straight from the tap,” said Ms Ral­itabo.

“I grew up in this area and for the 78 years I have lived, walk­ing long dis­tances to col­lect wa­ter was the or­der of the day. We would usu­ally walk in groups of four women as a safety mea­sure when col­lect­ing wa- ter.”

In his re­marks dur­ing the han­dover cer­e­mony, Kolo #49 Mem­ber of Par­lia­ment Paul Te­boho Lehloenya said over the years count­less girls were forced to drop out of school in the con­stituency due to wa­ter scarcity.

Mr Lehloenya said he was happy the fa­cil­i­ties were be­ing handed-over to the vil­lage in Au­gust, which is African Women’s Month.

“Women and girl chil­dren are the most af­fected by wa­ter scarcity be­cause they are forced to walk long dis­tances to col­lect the valu­able re­source for their house­hold chores,” said Mr Lehloenya.

Girl chil­dren, he said, also had to con­tend with walk­ing long dis­tances to and from school ev­ery day.

“Af­ter re­turn­ing home, girls were the most af­fected by the scarcity be­cause they also had to walk long dis­tances to col­lect wa­ter from un­pro- TWENTY-THREE HIV pa­tients ad­her­ing to an­tiretro­vi­ral treat­ment (ART) for 10 years yes­ter­day cel­e­brated the mile­stone at Tlali Clinic in Ha-moitšopeli.

The pa­tients started con­sis­tently tak­ing ART af­ter test­ing Hiv-pos­i­tive in 2006. The clinic ini­ti­ated the cel­e­bra­tions in 2014 to mo­ti­vate other HIV pa­tients to fol­low suit.

Ad­dress­ing the gath­er­ing, which also in­cluded Health Min­is­ter Dr Molotsi Monya­mane (pic­tured), El­iz­a­beth Glaser Pe­di­atric AIDS Foun­da­tion (EGPAF) District Tech­ni­cal Ad­vi­sor Dr Ye­tunve Fas­mvilele said the cel­e­bra­tions were im­por­tant be­cause they in­spired HIV pa­tients to take their med­i­ca­tion re­li­giously and know their sta­tus.

“This event is meant to show the pub­lic there is life for Hiv-pos­i­tive peo­ple when they cor­rectly take their med­i­ca­tion. So there is ac­tu­ally noth­ing to fear. This should be a les­son to oth­ers who still live in fear,” Dr Famviyele said.

“All of the pa­tients we are cel­e­brat­ing with to­day ay have very low vi­ral loads be­cause they y con­sis­tently take their med­i­ca­tion. Theyy take the right dose at the right time.”

She added:ded: “This cer­e­mony is an eye opener for someme peo­ple and shows what needs to be done foror them to take the step for­ward to test andnd treat so we can achieve the 90/90/90 tar­get.”

Un­der the treat­ment tar­get, 90 0 per­cent of all peo­ple e liv­ing with HIV would uld know their HIV sta­tus, tus, 90 per­cent of all peo­ple ople di­ag­nosed with HIVV would re­ceive sus­tained an­tiretro­vi­ral ther­apy andnd 90 per­cent of all peo­plee re­ceiv­ing an­tiretro­vi­ral ther­apy would have vi­ral sup­pres­sion. Le­sotho’s Hiv-preva­lence rate in­creased from 23 per­cent to 25 per­cent, ac­cord­ing to the De­mo­graphic and Health Sur­vey re­port re­leased in June this year. One of the pa­tients, Mot­sie Ra­mafikeng, said he ad­hered to ART be­cause he wanted to re­main alive for the sake of his fam­ily. “I am so happy to­day that I took my med­i­ca­tion for this long and am still healthy. I want to en­cour­age ev­ery­one to take charge of their lives and visit health cen­tres to get tested with­out wor­ry­ing about what other peo­ple will say,” he said. “There will al­ways be peo­ple who want to de­mor­alise oth­ers, but my en­cour­age­ment is for ev­ery­one to be strong and go and get tested. HIV pa­tients should also take their med­i­ca­tion cor­rectly and they will get sup­port from their fam­i­lies.” For his part, Dr Monya­mane said Tlali Health Cen­tre was a good ex­am­ple for other health cen­tres be­cause it showed there was hope and life for peo­ple liv­ing with HIV. “To­day, I am cer­tain we can beat HIV if we can have peo­ple with this kind of at­ti­tude whe when it comes to their wellbe well­be­ing,” Dr Monya­mane said. “We re­ally do need to take mea­sures to in­form an and ed­u­cate peo­ple about HIV and how peo­ple should be be­have. As health prac prac­ti­tion­ers, we ne need to take an ex­tra step and be an ex­amp ex­am­ple to the publ pub­lic by first k know­ing our sta­tus b be­fore en­cou en­cour­ag­ing o oth­ers to do so.”

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