What we have learnt from HIV Campaigns to end GBV

What we have learnt from HIV Campaigns to end GBV

Date: December 21, 2017
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By Ntolo Lekau

Lesotho has the third-highest HIV prevalence in the world with almost one in the four (23%) people in the country living with HIV.

In 2016, the government through the Ministry of Health in partnership with United States (US) government‘s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), at Columbia University and the Bureau of Statistics undertook a survey entitled Lesotho Population-Based HIV Impact Assessment (LePHIA) from November 2016 to May 2017 in order to measure the reach and impact of the country’s HIV prevention, care and treatment services.

The survey which was conducted nationally in 10,000 households and with 15,000 participants revealed that from the targeted age group of 15 -59, 77.2% who tested positive already knew their HIV status.

The government of Lesotho through the Ministry of Health, National AIDS Commission (NAC) and other organisations worked on a strategic plan to prevent HIV which included educational campaigns, work-based HIV prevention initiatives like “TEST and TREAT” and targeting high –risk groups such as factory workers and sex workers whom mostly are women.

In 2013 Gender Links Lesotho undertook the Gender Based Violence Indicators Study which revealed high prevalence GBV rates in the country. The research showed that most women of the GBV victims were also HIV positive.

Currently, Gender Links (GL) is working with women survivors of GBV from the councils that are part of GL programme Centres of Excellence (COE). As part of their trainings and mentoring process they were asked to write their stories

One woman from Sanqebethu Council Mokhotlong district wrote, “My husband would force me to things that I was not comfortable to do especially in presence of our children as we lived in a single room and when I refused he would tell me that he does not care because he will do them with other women who were willing and happy to do so.

I would be worried what he meant until I found out that he was cheating on me with other women, I was very hurt when I found out but he did not show any remorse when I confronted him.

One day he came home very drunk and he wanted to sleep with me while our children were still awake and I refused, he beat me up so badly and one of my friend advised me to report him at the police, but I refused as I was so scared but only went to see a doctor because I was badly injured and when I get to the clinic I was advised to go for counselling and testing and was tested HIV positive.

I was so scared and very confused as I did not know how I was going to tell him and how he was going to react. I waited about a week before I could tell me and when I told him that I tested HIV positive he beat me up and told me he does not understand where I got such a terrible disease and told me he will not be sleeping with me anymore because I will infect him and he refused to go for testing as he was saying that he was not sick and there was no way that he can catch such disease.’’

As a way forward HIV campaigns in Lesotho can also be used to address GBV issues and also make people aware how those two are interrelated. The home based social workers and community police forums can be used as leaders to assist and address GBV and HIV issues because we cannot deal with the other without the other one.




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