National University of Lesotho recognises World AIDS Day

On the 12th January, 2018 the National University of Lesotho observed the World AIDS Day in collaboration with the Lesotho Network of AIDS Service Organisation (LENASO), Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation (EGPAF) and the National AIDS Commission (NAC).


The day started with a procession from Ha Scout to the main campus at Roma. Participants procession at the procession were drawn from the Roma and NUL community as well as the partnering organisations to the event. Main event started at 9:00am whereby the NUL Chaplain opened, spiritually the event with a prayer and words of wisdom. In his speech, the Vice Chancellor of the University Professor Nqosa Mahao thanked the community and the partnering organisations for participating in the event. “It does not matter if the whole community is gathered here and never digest today’s discussion. Let us hope we bring element of commitment and engagement to the fighting of HIV & AIDS”, Professor Mahao said.


The Vice Chancellor indicated that the importance of education is not just having knowledge on particular subject but also the values that must be added within one’s community. “We are a community of learned persons in the country, why is it difficult that we can be committed and engaged in fighting this pandemic together?”, Prof Mahao asked.


NUL Vice Chancellor does not, personally believe that Lesotho has never been committed in fighting HIV & AIDS if by now Lesotho is number worldwide in terms of HIV infections. When concluding his remarks, Prof urged the community to practice safe sex, not to pass HIV to the other party, check their status all the time, to stay on their medication and to be an advocate.


On behalf of LENASO Mrs. Mankhala Lerotholi put into attention that Lesotho is still facing the biggest challenge with HIV & AIDS because of varying factors such as multiple sexual partners which build a long chain of infections. Mrs. Lerotholi indicated that in July 2017, LENASO got funding from the Global Fund and the purpose of that funding was to reduce the new infections of HIV by increasing the uptake of HIV Testing. She indicated that this project is focusing more on the tertiary institutions, congregations, door to door and condom education and distribution. Mrs. Lerotholi emphasized the START SMART concept.


“If you are HIV positive, START SMART by taking your treatment as prescribed and make sure that you are not infecting anyone or you being re-infected”, Mrs. Lerotholi stipulated. She concluded her remarks by thanking all people who contributed in the success of the START SMART project, mostly the peer educators from LENASO, NUL Management for allowing LENASO to implement the project and also EGPAF (Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation) and other partners for providing services to their clients when they need them.


In motivating and encouraging the community to test for HIV as well as showing the community that HIV & AIDS is manageable, the former NUL pastoral care and counseling student ‘Matšepo Mphafi who is now the EGPAF Ambassador, urged the youth to test regularly without fear and for those who are positive to use medication to maintain their good health. She indicated that discovering that one is HIV positive is not a death sentence rather an opportunity to know where they stand so that they can take care of themselves and manage their HIV virus properly. “There’s no difference in health as you can see I am still healthy and beautiful like anyone else”, she emphasised.


On behalf of National Aids Commission, Mr. Monts’i stressed the issue of encouraging and motivating people within their communities as far as HIV & AIDS pandemic is concerned. “You cannot walk around and tell people that are educated, you have a certain degree while you are ignoring people within your community and never motivate nor encourage them”, he said. Mr. Monts’i indicated that under sustainable development goals, Lesotho is planning to have an HIV & AIDS free generation by 2030. He added that if the community can work closely together, Lesotho will accomplish the goal of HIV & AIDS free generation.


The Country Director for EGPAF, Mrs. Ts’epang Mohlomi indicated that Lesotho joined the world in commemorating the World AIDS Day at a national event held at the Manthabiseng Convention, Maseru. “It was during that day that we the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation (EGPAF) also joined other institutions of higher learning as they launched their youth friendly clinic outreaches in order to ensure access to services to their student communities”, Mrs. Mohlomi emphasised.


She further indicated that the recently released Lesotho Population based HIV Impact Assessment (LePHIA) 2017 results clearly demonstrate marked progress on the 90 90 90 UNAIDS goals with reaching 77% on the 1st 90, 90% on the 2nd 90 and 88% on the 3rd 90.


“Our adolescent girls and young women are more vulnerable due to a myriad of reasons; including early sexual debut, limited ability to negotiate safe sexual practices, transactional sex and intergenerational relationships Mrs. Mohlomi stipulated”.


World AIDS Day is commemorated annually on the 1st December globally. It is an opportunity for people worldwide to unite in the fight against HIV & AIDS, to show support for people living with HIV, and to commemorate those who have died from AIDS-related illnesses. Founded in 1988, World AIDS Day was the first ever global health day.


NUL becomes, on annual basis part of the day and always contributes when the National AIDS Commission in Lesotho hosts such an event. After the national commemoration, the National University of Lesotho hosts the event for the NUL Community. It normally does that in partnership with the private and Non-Governmental Organizations.