©InfoLesotho has an estimated 270,000 people living with HIV, more than half of whom are women. The country has the second highest HIV prevalence in sub-Saharan Africa and life expectancy has dropped to 47 years (UNAIDS).
Around 130,000 children have been orphaned because of AIDS and 28,000 children are living with HIV (UNAIDS 2009).
The Lesotho Red Cross Society has significantly scaled up its community-based HIV work since 2002.
The focus of the programme is:
- preventing further HIV infections
- significantly reducing stigma and discrimination
- increasing the capacity of the Lesotho Red Cross
- expanding and improving the quality of care, treatment and support
- increasing access to food.
The programme, which runs from 2010-2014, is reaching up to 80,000 people with information about how to prevent HIV, as well as providing care and support to 2,400 people living with HIV and 2,800 orphans and vulnerable children.
The British Red Cross response
The British Red Cross is supporting the programme, which is taking place in five areas: Sebapala (Quthing district), Mapholaneng (Mokhotlong district), Mafeteng (Thanbana Morena district), Kena (Maseru rural district) and Thaba-Tseka (Thaba-Tseka district). The work includes:
Teams of specialist facilitators and volunteers deliver structured health education workshops on HIV and AIDS, TB, prevention of mother-to-child transmission, sexual and reproductive health and rights, gender-based violence issues, and other related health issues in community settings and people’s homes.
Youth peer education
Peer educators (aged 18-25) are recruited and trained to promote life skills and positive living to other young people in their communities and schools, including sexual and reproductive health and rights, sexually transmitted infections (STIs), HIV and AIDS.
Male and female condoms are distributed and people are trained on their correct use.
Care and support for people living with HIV and TB
There are trained volunteer carers who visit chronically ill people (i.e. home-bound or bed-ridden people) each week. They provide a wide range of assistance, including bringing food parcels, providing basic nursing care and referring people to social workers for psychosocial counselling. They also give advice on access to anti-retroviral treatment and nutrition, and help establish food gardens. During these visits, families and primary carers are empowered to manage the work themselves so each volunteer is able to visit three or four people a day.
Support to caregivers
Support groups are established for people living with HIV and carers as an important way of receiving psychosocial support from other community members, as well as for knowledge sharing and encouraging the creation of community food gardens.
Support groups are established for people living with HIV and caregivers as an important way of receiving psychosocial support from other community members, as well as for knowledge sharing and encouraging the creation of community food gardens.
New community initiatives are providing jobs and income for people living with HIV.
Work with orphans and vulnerable children
Orphans and other vulnerable children receive a wide range of practical assistance, including food, home visits, education support (e.g. uniforms and school materials) and support groups.
Support access to testing and treatment
We are increasing promotion of and support in accessing anti-retroviral treatment and HIV testing, as well as promoting programmes on how to prevent mother-to-child transmission.
Anti-stigma and discrimination
We advocate for and champion the rights of people living with HIV, orphans and other vulnerable children, helping them to access the support they need.
Increasing access to food
Volunteers receive vegetable seeds as well as fruit trees and garden tools to help improve crop production. This is further supported with training on farming techniques, nutrition, food preparation and preservation techniques, all helping towards achieving food self-sufficiency.
Read about people living with HIV