THE First Lady, Maesiah Thabane, will assume the position of Special Advocate for HIV Prevention in Lesotho ahead of the World AIDS Day commemorations which will be held on 1 December 2017.
Ms Thabane’s assumption of the role will coincide with the intensification of HIV/AIDS awareness campaigns that will launched in seven districts at the end of the month.
She will work with the National AIDS Commission (NAC) and other stakeholders in a non-stop campaign until the World AIDS Day, in initiatives at schools and hospitals to help the country reach its target of halving HIV infections by 2020. The campaign will feature several activities such as fun walks and dialogues.
NAC Communications and Advocacy Officer Ms Refiloe Mabejane this week told the Lesotho Times that they were pleased that Ms Thabane had accepted their request to assume the role, adding this was “in line with one of the functions of NAC to promote leadership and accountability for the HIV and AIDS response at all levels of government”.
Ms Mabejane said the First Lady was well-placed to contribute to the HIV and AIDS response by promoting the HIV Prevention agenda, mobilising, lobbying and advocating at community, district, national, regional and international level.
“Ms Thabane will lead community level HIV Testing mobilisation in various districts including Maseru, Berea, Leribe, Mafeteng, Mohale’s Hoek, Thaba-Tseka and Mokhotlong – most of these have the highest HIV prevalence in the country,” Ms Mabejane said, adding, the First Lady would also lead a walk to highlight the issue of access to health in November.
“NAC in collaboration with its stakeholders, will continue to work with the Office of the First Lady to support the First Lady in her role as Special Advocate for HIV Prevention.
“In the same light, the participation of more leaders in the HIV and AIDS response will be sought to contribute to the success of the HIV and AIDS response in the country,” Ms Mabejane said.
Speaking to the Lesotho Times on Tuesday, the Public Relations Manager in the office of the First Lady, Silas Monyatsi, said Ms Thabane had agreed to visit the selected areas to speak to the public to persuade them to test as well as to discuss the importance of knowing one’s HIV status as part of efforts to prevent HIV/AIDS.
“It’s very important that people know their status as the test and treat is a strategy of eliminating HIV. So, this is a way of scaling up efforts,” Mr Monyatsi said, adding the campaign would expand the scope of Ms Thabane’s work with the less privileged including Orphans and Vulnerable Children (OVC).
“Therefore, it won’t be very difficult for the First Lady to outdo herself in the campaign because working with people is something close to her heart,” Mr Monyatsi said.
He said Ms Thabane promised to ask her husband (Prime Minster, Thomas Thabane) that they be jointly tested for HIV to show the public that there was nothing wrong with getting tested and knowing their status.