People living with HIV say the scourge of the Covid-19 pandemic is an added challenge to their already besmirched life, especially during lockdowns when movement is restricted.
The Senior Nursing Officer of the Lesotho Network of People Living with HIV (LENEPWA) Bokako Rankoletsi said that most of the people living with HIV are street vendors who are mostly affected by the restrictions of movement.
“Street vendors, most of whom live with HIV, are not allowed to go about with their business during lockdown, that on its own affects them negatively, as most of them fail to provide for themselves or their families. Restricted movement also means that they are unable to take their medication as required as they are unable to go for refills and do not have anything to eat before taking treatment,” he said.
Rankoletsi stated that some of the health facilities get closed if they find a confirmed case of covid-19.
“When the facilities are closed that means it will be a problem for HIV positive people to access their treatment. There are also services like that of blood testing, monitoring of the viral load, so people with high viral load need to be monitored monthly and if the facilities are closed there will be a problem. Apart from that, people with high viral load have a weakened immune system hence they are at an increased risk of contracting diseases including Covid-19,” he said.
“We are pleading with the government of Lesotho to support them with food parcels so that they can continue to take their treatment. As the organisation we have asked for donations and managed to get hygiene products, so that they can adhere to the health recommendations like washing hands, sanitizing and wearing a mask. The organisation does not have a budget to help them with food parcels that is why we are appealing to the government for help,” he said.
“We have received reports from our members telling us that when they go to clinics they are stopped by members of security agencies requesting them movement permits. It is hard for people in the rural areas to go and get permits from the police as they have to walk long distances to stations,” he said.