In Lesotho, 25% of people aged 15-49 are living with HIV, making it the country with the second highest HIV prevalence in the world. Young people are especially at risk and often lack the knowledge to know how to protect themselves.
Avert’s work in Lesotho
Avert has been working in partnership with Phelisanang Bophelong (PB) since April 2015 to encourage young people in Leribe district to access HIV services and discuss sexual health.
With Avert’s support PB is improving young people’s access to youth-friendly HIV services and ensuring young lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people and prison inmates have their rights recognised.
Our partnership is also working to break down cultural practices that put young people at risk, and empowering them to make healthy life choices.
- youth group meetings
- health talks and school visits by youth community volunteers
- HIV testing and treatment referral
- LGBT and prisoner youth groups
- youth/parent ‘talk camps’ (intergenerational exchange)
As young people, we make mistakes because of lack of support, particularly from our parents. I wish all young people could join the youth group because it is very important. The information we get helps us make informed decisions.
- Tsietsi, PB youth group member
Through its LGBT groups, PB provides information and support to young people from the LGBT community who face stigma, discrimination and a greater risk of HIV. This is improving their ability to access services and demand their rights.
Prisoners have particularly high rates of HIV in Lesotho and if they don’t know their status they can infect others in their home communities when they are released. PB is working with prison inmates in Leribe to increase their understanding of HIV, sexual and reproductive health, and human rights. A prison youth group has been set up with information sharing sessions and training events held to reach other inmates.
I tested for HIV and got positive results. Because I had sufficient information on HIV/AIDS I accepted my status, enrolled into treatment and I am now living openly with HIV. Had I not joined the group and gained knowledge, none of this could have happened. That was really the best thing that changed my life.
- PB prison youth group member
Avert’s support means young people across Leribe district are taking control of their sexual health and protecting themselves against HIV.
Tšepiso is 15 years old and HIV-positive. Because of her HIV status, she was bullied at school and stigmatised in her village.
With support from Limakatso, a PB community volunteer, Tšepiso has joined one of the project’s youth groups where she has found a safe and welcoming space to made friends and get advice.
Limakatso is also encouraging Tšepiso’s parents, teachers and students to respect Tšepiso’s rights. Tšepiso is now much more confident to share her problems and seek advice on positive living.
Photo credits: ©Laura Craggs/Avert (top) and European Commission DG ECHO/CC BY-NC-ND 2.0 (above). Images used on this site are for illustrative purposes only. They do not imply any health status or behaviour on the part of the people in the photo.