Ambassador Rebecca Gonzales: Introducing Visiting HIV/AIDS Speaker Phill Wilson

Ambassador Gonzales: Introducing Phill Wilson at Bereng High School in Mafeteng: April 17, 2018

Please let me begin by thanking the District Administrator, the District Health Management Team, the Principals of Bereng and Masentle high schools, the teachers and students, Bo-‘M’e le Bo-Ntate. It is so great to see all of you on my very first visit to Mafeteng! My name is Rebecca Gonzales. I am the U.S. Ambassador to the Kingdom of Lesotho.

Today I have the great privilege of introducing a very special, very accomplished individual who has traveled a long way to speak with you. He has come all the way from Los Angeles, California in the United States of America to talk with young Basotho. But before I introduce him, let me say a few words about the partnership between the United States and Lesotho.

Our two countries have been friends for a long time – more than fifty years. That partnership started way before most of you were born and it has endured even during difficult times. One of the areas we partner most closely on is the fight against HIV/AIDS. This year we will celebrate 10 years of PEPFAR in Lesotho. PEPFAR is the United States President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief meant to help countries overcome the burden of HIV and AIDS. To date, the United States has committed 4 billion maloti to the fight against HIV/AIDS in this country.

Together we are committed to saving lives and supporting Lesotho’s efforts to reach epidemic control by ensuring that 90 percent of Basotho living with HIV know their HIV status, the same 90 percent is on treatment and the virus in their bodies is suppressed, which means it is not detectable. But we are not here to talk about numbers. We are here to talk about you – what is going on your lives, in the lives of your friends, family, and people you care about. So I would like to introduce our special guest, Mr. Phill Wilson.

Mr. Wilson is a prominent activist who founded the Black AIDS Institute in 1999. He became an activist after discovering that he was HIV positive in the 1980s. He previously worked as the AIDS Coordinator for Los Angeles and as co-chair of the Los Angeles HIV Health Commission. He was part of President Obama’s Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS and was a delegate to the World AIDS Summit. This gentleman not only talks the talk about living a healthy positive life, but he walks the walk. He is a legend. So please listen to what he has to say.

Mr. Wilson, thank you for being here in Lesotho today.

Kea leboha.