Lesotho Gets Tested
July 12, 2006
To reduce the spread and stigma of HIV and to encourage routine testing, Lesotho's government is engaged in a universal, voluntary HIV testing and counseling campaign called "Know Your Status." Last year, the government's operational plan set as a target testing everyone over the age of 12 by the end of 2007 as part of prevention and treatment efforts. The initiative will send counselors on house-to-house visits and allow minors over age 12 to test for HIV without the consent of their parents or guardians.
AIDS experts say routine, voluntary HIV testing and counseling are among the best ways to fight HIV's spread and its socioeconomic impact. In one South African study, more than half of those who tested HIV-positive had not initially perceived themselves to be at risk. With slightly under one-fourth HIV-infected, Lesotho's population is thought to have one of the highest HIV prevalence levels in the world.
Experts expect testing efforts will link patients to earlier HIV treatment and households to social safety nets; encourage people to have safer sex; and remove stigma from the disease. Mass testing will also help the government ascertain the extent and nature of its epidemic, since data are lacking. What is known is that although HIV/AIDS awareness levels are high, this has not translated to safer sexual behavior.
Lesotho's government said earlier this year the "Know Your Status" campaign still required $12.5 million in funding.
Mail & Guardian (Johannesburg)
07.06.06; Belinda Beresford
This article was provided by U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It is a part of the publication CDC HIV/Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update. Visit the CDC's website to find out more about their activities, publications and services.