US pledges M34 million for HIV programme

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MASERU — The United States has pledged about US$5 million (M34 million) to strengthen Lesotho’s prevention of mother-to-child transmission (PMTCT) of HIV programme.
The US embassy in Lesotho said in a statement that the US supports the country’s efforts towards eliminating new HIV infections among children and keeping their mothers alive.
“The US government, through the US President’s Emergency Plan for Aids Relief (Pepfar), is supporting the government of Lesotho in working towards eliminating mother-to-child HIV transmission,” the statement said.
The funds would help the Ministry of Health to step up the fight against new infections from mothers to their unborn babies.
“This contribution will allow Lesotho to increase universal access to high quality, comprehensive PMTCT services for all pregnant women and support, care and treatment services to all unborn and newly born children of HIV positive women.
It will help to “eliminate mother to child transmission of HIV and new paediatric HIV infections in order to establish a generation free of pediatric HIV in Lesotho.”
The United Nations Children’s Fund says Lesotho has already reached 80 percent coverage for providing antiretroviral therapy.
The country’s national target this year is to have all pregnant mothers access the minimum package or mother-baby-pack, a take-home package of anti-retroviral drugs that are taken before, during and after giving birth.
This helps to prevent pregnant mothers passing on HIV to their unborn babies.
US ambassador to Lesotho, Michele Bond, said the US will continue to support Lesotho in the fight against HIV and Aids.
“The United States is committed to continuing to support Lesotho in its efforts to combat HIV,” Bond said.
“Providing pregnant women living with HIV with antiretroviral prevention and treatment reduces the risk of a child being born with the virus to less than five percent and keeps their mothers alive to raise them.
“Preventing new HIV infections among children is truly a smart investment that saves lives and helps to give children a healthy start in life,” she said.

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