QUEEN Masenate Mohato Seeiso has appealed for “introspection” and concerted action, saying it cannot be business as usual in the fight against the HIV/AIDS pandemic.
Her Majesty made the call while officiating at the recent World AIDS Day commemorations at Manthabiseng Convention Centre in Maseru.
Queen Masenate Mohato Seeiso used the occasion to officially launch the new HIV testing device for infants in Lesotho which is expected to assist in reducing child mortality due to HIV/AIDS.
The new point-of-care (POC) machines are miniaturised devices that have the capacity to perform an early infant diagnosis (EID) test at the facility where HIV exposed infants present for care.
The devices provide same-day results and potentially facilitate the same-day treatment; replacing the conventional system where infants of HIV positive mothers would only be tested after 6 weeks.
Queen Masenate Mohato Seeiso said that in line with this year’s theme: ‘HANDS UP FOR #HIVPREVENTION,’ it was imperative for all stakeholders to continue working tirelessly to formulate strategies and fast track efforts in order to achieve an HIV free generation by 2030.
“The situation remains dire and calls for serious introspection as continuing as usual leaves the country very much in danger,” she said, adding, research had shown that new infections are more prevalent in females aged 13 to 35.
“HIV (prevalence rate) is at 30 percent in urban areas and in rural areas it is 20percent. These figures are escalating due to the fact that a portion of men do not want to go to clinics to get tested.”
Queen Masenate Mohato Seeiso said government had come up with several interventions to assist the fight against HIV/AIDS pandemic, among them, the resuscitation of the National AIDS Commission (NAC), the launch of the Test and Treat on April 2016, the introduction of viral load testing device, an introduction of HIV testing for the new born, ending early child marriage as well as the injection of M 100 million for the acquisition of Ante retro viral Treatment (ART).
Her Majesty also called urged stakeholders to continue testing and putting antiretroviral drugs (ARVs) to correct use while desisting from stigmatising and discriminating against those found to be infected.
Queen Masenate Mohato Seeiso said it was also important to engage and conscientise the youth on the dangers of risky behaviour that could lead to infections.