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Sex workers, gays increase HIV infection rate – report

The Minister of Health Motlatsi Maqelepo

Nov. 2, 2020 3 min read

3 min read

SEX workers and gay men have significantly contributed to the high HIV/AIDS infection rate in the country during the COVID-19 induced lockdown which was imposed since March, a report by the HIV/AIDS Committee has shown.

The report was tabled on Monday for adoption before the National Assembly by the chairperson of the HIV/AIDS Committee, ’Mapulumo Hlao.

After it was successfully tabled, the report was adopted by the house.

Presenting it, Mrs Hlao said the committee was concerned that all the essential efforts were directed towards the fight against the COVID-19 outbreak and in the process, neglecting the normal HIV/AIDS activities, which she added has aggravated the scourge both in Lesotho and the world at large.

She said the committee resolved to invite the National AIDS Commission (NAC) to establish as to what activities have now been put in place to combat the spread of HIV/AIDS.

The commission she said instead related challenges it faced during the period under review, including the closing down of its offices in the districts which has tampered with its activities to get up to date statistics.

Mr Hlao said the commission highlighted that during the lockdown, new HIV infections rose sharply and many girls as young as 14 years old also fell pregnant as they loitered around due to closed schools.

“Another serious challenge that was noted during the time in question was the rampant domestic violence as most men spent a lot of time at home,” she also showed.

A number of pregnant women and girls, she noted also gave birth to premature babies as most of them were unable to go to health centres for treatment during the lock down due to the restricted movement.

The impact was further compounded by the nationwide strike by health professionals (doctors and nurses) who demanded risk allowances and personal protective equipment (PPE), she said.

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NAC, the National Assembly heard also urged the government to make interventions like provision of food parcels to the pregnant women and girls, adding that their conditions were made worse by the rampant COVID-19.
For his part, the Minister of Health, Motlatsi Maqelepo pledged to work hard through his ministry to curb the spread of HIV/AIDS, adding that his wish was to see the rate of both HIV and Tuberculosis (TB) declining tremendously during his tenure as minister.

He further promised to ensure that primary health care as well as village health workers will intensify their efforts to stop the spread of both diseases in villages across the country.

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