HIV was first reported in Lesotho in 1986 and within seven
years rose to around 4% of the population before an explosion of
the virus whereby it is now estimated that a quarter of all
adults having HIV with 50% of all women infected. Lesotho has
the third highest prevalence of HIV/AIDS anywhere in the world
and in 2009 alone 12,000 people died from AIDS out of a
population of some 2,000,000.
Children in Lesotho, of whom 30% are already orphans and 12,000
infected themselves, literally see doctors, teachers and other
workers dying around them with no workforce to replace them and
a dwindling number of adult carers. Its as though the entire kingdom is being extinguished.
Indeed in 2007 the chief executive of the National AIDS
Commission in Lesotho reported that HIV/AIDS has the potential
to "wipe out" the country. The situation, however, is being taken seriously with HIV
being declared a national disaster, however lack of capital and
political instability has undermined the government's HIV
strategy which is to reverse the epidemic by the promotion of
using condoms, programs focussing on the prevention of
mother-to-child transmission and an extensive antiretroviral
treatment program for all those who need it.
Cultural norms, however, somewhat mitigate against this with
30% of all boys in Lesotho reporting that they have had sex
before the age of 15yrs compared with 6% in developed countries
and such sex is often with older, unprotected partners and such
activity is on the rise. It's of concern that despite
interventions, only 29% of 15-24 year old males and 39% of 15-24
year old females can actually identify ways of stopping the
transmission of HIV through intercourse.
This short video documentary charts the work being undertaken
in Lesotho to manage what is unfolding as a national tragedy at
an alarming rate. The following chart provides some indicators
for HIV in Lesotho.