THE National AIDS Commission (NAC) has lined up a series of HIV/AIDS education and prevention activities ahead of the World AIDS Day commemorations on 1 December this year as part of efforts to eliminate the pandemic.
World AIDS Day (WAD) is globally commemorated annually on 1 December to encourage the world to unite in the fight against HIV, show support for people living with HIV, and to commemorate those who have died from AIDS-related illnesses.
Lesotho’s WAD Planning Committee has adopted this year theme as – ‘My Health, My Right,’ which aims to help breathe new life into HIV prevention efforts.
NAC Communications and Advocacy Programme Manager, Refiloe Mabejane, this week told the Lesotho Times that the commemorations will be held in collaboration with the Ministry of Health, other line ministries and non-governmental organisations.
Ms Mabejane also said they would use the commemorations to launch self-testing and Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP) which are part of the global HIV and AIDS fighting response.
Ms Mabejane said they recently held a health walk in Maseru as part of the build up to the commemorations. The walk was attended by the First Lady, Maesaiah Thabane and Prime Minister, Thomas Thabane.
“We are yet to hold a HIV Testing campaign and outreach activities targeting adolescent girls and young women, key populations including prison inmates, commercial sex workers and men having sex with men in various districts. The First Lady is leading this campaign with the support of other national leaders,” Ms Mabejane said.
“Information, Education and Communication (IEC) material will be printed and distributed, while social media platforms especially NAC Lesotho Facebook pages will be used to pass messages about HIV and AIDS.”
Ms Mabejane said goodwill ambassadors would be mobilised to record messages targeting different age groups to be aired on radios in the build-up to WAD as a way of ensuring that all Basotho received the message.
She said there would be presentations, exhibitions and media programmes including radio broadcasts on the day of the commemoration.
“These will be followed by statement from His Majesty King Letsie III and a brief discussion with listeners.
“All these initiatives will be held to raise awareness in order to achieve the goals and objectives of the country as far as HIV prevention and education is concerned.”
“The aim is to advocate at all levels for the right to health for all, leaving no one behind.
It is also to bring attention to the need for healthcare that is devoid of discrimination and stigma, sensitising communities on the importance of respecting human rights for all groups in society for the well-being of all.”
She said the day will further assist in the mobilisation of goodwill ambassadors to raise awareness on 90-90-90 targets which state that 90% of people in Lesotho should know their HIV status, 90% of those testing positive should be immediately put on treatment and 90% of those on treatment should have their viral load suppressed.