A SENIOR United States envoy has commended Lesotho’s efforts to combat the HIV/AIDS pandemic through its adoption of a “Test and Treat” strategy aimed at ensuring that every person who tests positive for HIV is given immediate treatment.
In an exclusive interview with the Lesotho Times yesterday, US Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Linda Thomas-Greenfield said the initiative would address what is not only a Lesotho problem but a regional problem of high HIV/AIDS prevalence.
Ambassador Thomas-Greenfield was in Lesotho for a two-day visit from Tuesday as part of a regional tour which also included Namibia and South Africa.
During her visit, Ambassador Thomas-Greenfield toured the Khubetsoana Health Centre that provides HIV services with support from the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) through the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation (EGPAF).
The health centre was built with the support of the Millennium Challenge Corporation and implements the “Test and Treat” policy that has more than doubled the number of HIV positive patients newly-enrolled at the centre on life-saving anti-retroviral therapy.
“In adopting the “Test and Treat” approach, Lesotho is absolutely moving in the right direction because what the policy does is to ensure that people start treatment immediately,” she said.
“And what we have seen in many countries is that people who tested positive never come back to start the treatment. And we know the results of that. So I think your government is moving in the right direction.”
Lesotho’s HIV-prevalence is the second highest in the world at 25 percent.
The “Test and Treat” initiative was launched by Prime Minister Pakalitha Mosisili in April this year to increase treatment coverage, improve life expectancy and health outcomes for all people living with HIV.
Ambassador Thomas-Greenfield also called on the government to better resource the country’s health centres, especially in remote areas.
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“Those remote areas, where the clinics are located are where the needs are greatest. I think the government can do more and the government can always to better,” she said.
“Part of our goal was to provide the infrastructure that would allow the government to deliver health services to the population. And we are concerned that not enough resources are being put into maintaining these health facilities. I think the government is aware of that and they are working to address the issue.”