Help on Horseback for AIDS Sufferers in Mountain Kingdom of Lesotho
March 11, 2011
The African kingdom of Lesotho has myriad exceptional traits. It is a sovereign nation landlocked by South Africa; 80 percent of the kingdom lies above 1,800 meters; and one-third of its 2 million people live in remote communities cut off for months at a time due to inclement weather. Worse still, more than one-quarter of its residents have HIV/AIDS.
In order to bring antiretroviral medication to those living with HIV/AIDS in isolated areas, Dr. Leo Buhendwa, modified the traditional practice of using horses for transportation and established the Horse Riding for Health (HRH) program. The program benefits from its riders' intimate familiarity with the terrain.
"Thirty percent of the population was cut off for four months" because of torrential rains and snow accumulation, said Buhendwa, country director for the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation. "For months they couldn't access care; they couldn't access treatment; and they couldn't access prevention services. So we had to find a solution."
Since horses are the sole means of winter transportation in the mountains, HRH uses them to service far-flung clinics situated in steep, unforgiving territory. One clinic is so remote its staff nurse boards there, as trekking back and forth to work would be too grueling.
That rural clinic assists 152 HIV patients and is now helped by HRH, which has four horse riders servicing its region. One rider, Potso, makes the same 30-minute journey numerous times each week between a Red Cross clinic and the secluded treatment center.
"If my brother was aware of HIV and AIDS and the drugs that were available, he wouldn't be dead," said Potso. "I wanted to be a horse rider because I wanted to help the people. I didn't want to be in that disaster again."
02.04.2011; Robyn Curnow
This article was provided by CDC National Prevention Information Network. It is a part of the publication CDC HIV/Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update.
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