TWENTY-THREE HIV patients adhering to antiretroviral treatment (ART) for 10 years yesterday celebrated the milestone at Tlali Clinic in Ha-Moitšopeli.
The patients started consistently taking ART after testing HIV-positive in 2006. The clinic initiated the celebrations in 2014 to motivate other HIV patients to follow suit.
Addressing the gathering, which also included Health Minister Dr Molotsi Monyamane, Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation (EGPAF) District Technical Advisor Dr Yetunve Fasmvilele said the celebrations were important because they inspired HIV patients to take their medication religiously and know their status.
“This event is meant to show the public there is life for HIV-positive people when they correctly take their medication. So there is actually nothing to fear. This should be a lesson to others who still live in fear,” Dr Famviyele said.
“All of the patients we are celebrating with today have very low viral loads because they consistently take their medication. They take the right dose at the right time.”
She added: “This ceremony is an eye opener for some people and shows what needs to be done for them to take the step forward to test and treat so we can achieve the 90/90/90 target.”
Under the treatment target, 90 percent of all people living with HIV would know their HIV status, 90 percent of all people diagnosed with HIV would receive sustained antiretroviral therapy and 90 percent of all people receiving antiretroviral therapy would have viral suppression.
Lesotho’s HIV-prevalence rate increased from 23 percent to 25 percent, according to the Demographic and Health Survey report released in June this year.
One of the patients, Motsie Ramafikeng, said he adhered to ART because he wanted to remain alive for the sake of his family.
“I am so happy today that I took my medication for this long and am still healthy. I want to encourage everyone to take charge of their lives and visit health centres to get tested without worrying about what other people will say,” he said.
“There will always be people who want to demoralise others, but my encouragement is for everyone to be strong and go and get tested. HIV patients should also take their medication correctly and they will get support from their families.”
For his part, Dr Monyamane said Tlali Health Centre was a good example for other health centres because it showed there was hope and life for people living with HIV.
“Today, I am certain we can beat HIV if we can have people with this kind of attitude when it comes to their wellbeing,” Dr Monyamane said.
“We really do need to take measures to inform and educate people about HIV and how people should behave. As health practitioners, we need to take an extra step and be an example to the public by first knowing our status before encouraging others to do so.”