Lesotho makes strides in HIV fight

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Limpho Sello

LESOTHO has registered huge progress in the fight against HIV/AIDS amid revelations that 90.6 percent of people living with HIV from the ages of 15 to 59 years have adhered to antiretroviral therapy (ART) leading to viral load suppression.

The revelations are contained in the final Lesotho Population-Based HIV Impact Assessment (LePHIA) report which was released this week. The report shows that the viral load has been suppressed in 88.3 percent of those who were reported to be on treatment.

The 90.6 percent figure surpasses the second of three ambitious 90-90-90 treatment targets seeking to end the Aids epidemic by 2020.

The first 90 target seeks to ensure that by the year 2020, 90 percent of all people living with HIV know their HIV status and the second target seeks to ensure that 90 percent of all people diagnosed with HIV receive sustained antiretroviral therapy. The third target is to ensure that 90 percent of all people receiving ARVs will have viral suppression by 2020.

Lesotho embarked on different campaigns as part of efforts to ensure that the set targets were met by 2020, including the Know Your Status, Prevention of Mother to Child (PMTC) and Test and Treat campaigns.

The country subsequently embarked on the Lesotho Population-Based HIV Impact Assessment (LePHIA) to measure the impact of these campaigns and the study revealed that Lesotho had made huge progress in the fight against HIV/AIDS and surpassed the second of the 90-90-90 treatment targets.

LePHIA is a nationally representative study led by the government through the Ministry of Health, with funding and technical support from the US government through PEPFAR, Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and ICAP at Colombia University.

The PHIA project consists of household population surveys to collect information related to HIV in approximately 15 countries and in Lesotho, the survey involved 10 000 households and 15 000 participants.

“Among people living with HIV (PLHIV) in the ages 15 to 59 years who know their HIV status, 90.2 percent report current use of ART. 90.6 percent of HIV-positive females and 89.4 percent of HIV-positive males who know their HIV status report current use of ART,” the report states.

“Among PLHIV in the ages 15 to 59 years who report current use of ART, 88.3 percent are virally suppressed. 88.2 percent of HIV-positive females and 88.4 percent of HIV-positive males who report current use of ART are virally suppressed.”

The report however, notes that HIV prevalence remains high in Lesotho, with a significant disparity between women and men. The pediatric HIV prevalence also remains among the highest in the world.

At about 25 percent, Lesotho is ranked second to Swaziland in HIV prevalence in the world.

The final LePHIA report comes as the Lesotho prepares to join other nations in commemorating World AIDS Day.

World AIDS Day is globally commemorated annually on 1 December and it provides an opportunity for people across the world to unite in the fight against HIV/AIDS, show their support for people living with HIV/AIDS and to commemorate people who have died from the condition.

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