Lesotho is one of the countries with the biggest decline in new HIV infections, according to a recent report released by UNAIDS.
Published week, the report named ‘The Path that Ends AIDS’, shows the number of new infections decreased by 74 percent from 19,000 in 2010 to 4,800 in 2022.
Only Zimbabwe and Nepal had higher drops in the number of new infections than Lesotho with 78 and 77 percentages respectively.
The UNAIDS report contains data and case studies which highlight that ending AIDS is a political and financial choice and that the countries and leaders who are already following the path are achieving extraordinary results.
“This report makes clear that there is a path to end AIDS. Taking that path will help ensure preparedness to address other pandemic challenges, and advance progress across the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs),” Winnie Byanyima, Executive Director of UNAIDS, said yesterday.
“The data and real-world examples in the report make it very clear what that path is. It is not a mystery. It is a choice. Some leaders are already following the path—and succeeding,” Byanyima added.
She said the report describes in detail how countries that put people and communities first in their policies and programmes are already leading the world on the journey to end AIDS by 2030.
“We need all leaders to get on that path,” she said.
Byanyima also said that ending AIDS is an opportunity for a uniquely powerful legacy for today’s leaders. The leaders, she said, have the chance to be remembered by future generations as those who ensured the policies, programmes, and investments that put a stop to the world’s deadliest pandemic.
“They can save millions of lives and protect the health of us all. They can show what leadership can do,” she said.
None of this will come automatically, however. AIDS claimed a life every minute in 2022. Millions of people still miss out on treatment, including 43 percent of children living with HIV,” she added.
In July last year, ahead of the International Aids Conference opening in Montreal, Canada, UNAIDS released a report titled ‘In Danger’ which revealed that Lesotho and other countries such as Italy, Vietnam, and Zimbabwe cut new HIV infections by more than 45 percent between 2015 and 2021.
“Countries as diverse as Italy, Lesotho, Viet Nam and Zimbabwe cut new HIV infections by more than 45 percent between 2015 and 2021,” read the report.
It indicated that these countries were able to cut new HIV infections because their national responses were adequately resourced. They also adopted sound policies and made prevention and treatment technologies widely available.
In 2013, the UNAIDS introduced the 90-90-90 concept.
The idea was that by 2020, 90 percent of people who are HIV infected would be diagnosed, 90 percent of people who are diagnosed would be on antiretroviral treatment and 90 percent of those who receive antiretrovirals would be virally suppressed.
Some countries faced insurmountable challenges to achieve high rates of HIV testing and treatment to reduce transmission but Lesotho was one of the few countries to accomplish the milestone.
In 2020, it was reported that Lesotho Population-based HIV Impact Assessment showed that Lesotho reached the UNAIDS 90-90-90 targets by 2020.
90 percent of the population was aware of their HIV status, 97 percent of those aware of their HIV status were on treatment, and 92 percent of those on treatment were virally suppressed.