People living with HIV receive hygiene packs from LENEPHWHA



MASERU – Chairperson of the community of Women Living with HIV in Lesotho, ‘Mamoletsi Moletsi, says COVID-19 precautionary measures have forced a great change in their pattern of life – becoming the new normal per healthy living and hygienic demands. Moletsi made this observation in an interview with Public Eye after the community received hygiene packs from the Lesotho Network of People Living with HIV and AIDS (LENEPWHA), supported by UNAIDS.

“Most of people living with HIV are unemployed and safety demands to fight the Coronavirus add to our already existing expenses like water bills, food and cosmetics. So we are really thankful to the people who thought of us in these trying COVID-19 times,” Moletsi said. She further noted that already as people living with HIV they faced the daily threat infection, and that during this pandemic and without tangible statistics, they were aware that HIV infection was rapidly escalating due to gender based violence as many women get abused and mostly raped.

“Due to lockdown restriction, most women and girls have lost their jobs and have to beg in order to survive. And this is the time they are being taken advantage of by men…this exposes them HIV,” observed Moletsi. LENEPWHA Executive Director, Maketekete Thotolo, said they feel honoured to be remembered as a section of society at this time they were most in need of assistance to fight the pandemic. He said UNAIDS spent over M658 000, and an additional M17 390 for transportation of the hygiene packs to reach their destined beneficiaries countrywide.

Meanwhile UNAIDS Country Director Jacqueline Makokha revealed that the packs were a donation from UNAIDS and Reckitt Benckiser (RB), and part of the efforts to distribute over 195 00 hygiene packs to people living with HIV in the Eastern and Southern African region. The packs consist of a three-month supply of soap, and bleach which will be distributed to 10 000 people countrywide

“Although there is currently no clear evidence that people living with HIV are at an increased risk of acquiring COVID-19 or of becoming more ill from it, many people living with HIV are ageing and/or have other health conditions. These include Tuberculosis, heart and lung diseases, which are known to make people susceptible to COVID-19,” Makokha said

UNAIDS estimates that 340 000 Basotho are living with HIV and around 13 200 people get infected annually. In 2018 Lesotho had 6000 AIDS related deaths. Makokha noted that the Coronavirus comes at a time when Lesotho had achieved substantial momentum to address the HIV epidemic. “Lesotho had achieved substantial progress ensuring that 81 percent of the people who are infected with HIV know their status, 92 percent were on treatment and 88 percent had achieved viral suppression. These gains are under threat because of COVID-19.”

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