Lesotho Makes Substantial Progress Towards HIV/AIDS Epidemic Control

Ambassador Gonzales hands over the LePHIA 2020 Survey preliminary results to Her Majesty Queen 'Masenate

Ambassador Rebecca Gonzales, Minister of Health, Honorable Motlatsi Maqelepo, and other partners joined Her Majesty Queen ‘Masenate Mohato Seeiso as she announced the preliminary results of the Lesotho Population-based HIV Impact Assessment (LePHIA 2020) survey at the Royal Residence in Matsieng on November 30.

LePHIA 2020 is a household-based national survey conducted between December 2019 and March 2020 to measure Lesotho’s national HIV response status. The survey was conducted across 9,665 households and included 16,468 participants aged 15 years and above. LePHIA 2020 is the second LePHIA survey; the first was completed in 2016-2017.

The survey offered HIV counseling and testing (with immediate return of results), HIV viral load testing, and collected information about HIV care and treatment services uptake. The results provide information on national and district-level progress towards key HIV targets and goals. Most importantly, preliminary LePHIA 2020 results show that Lesotho has substantially progressed toward controlling the HIV epidemic.

  • Key preliminary findings from the LePHIA 2020 survey are as follows:
    HIV prevalence: 23 percent (27 percent among females and 18 percent among males), which corresponds to approximately 324,000 adults living with HIV in the country.
  • Diagnosis: Among adults (aged 15+) who tested HIV-positive in LePHIA 2020, 90 percent reported they were already aware of their HIV status (91 percent of HIV-positive females and 87.7 percent of HIV-positive males). · On Treatment: Among the adults (aged 15+) who tested HIV-positive in the survey, 97 percent self-reported current use of antiretroviral treatment (ART) (97 percent of HIV-positive females and 96 percent of HIV-positive males).
  • Viral Load Suppression: Among HIV+ adults who self-reported current use of ART, 92 percent had viral load suppression (93 percent of HIVpositive females and 91 percent of HIV-positive males).

The survey provides evidence that Lesotho has achieved the first of the UNAIDS 90-90-90 targets and has exceeded the second and third 90 targets. These findings place the country on track to achieve the even more ambitious UNAIDS 95-95-95 targets by 2025.

Speaking at the occasion about the incredible progress Lesotho has made since the 2016 survey, Ambassador Gonzales noted, “since 2014, we have been striving to reach the 90-90-90 UNAIDS targets. These targets were set to give countries a goal that would signal an end to the devastation brought on by HIV/AIDS. But to know the road ahead, we had to know where we stood. LePHIA is that roadmap. It helps us understand where we are today in fighting this terrible disease… the first LePHIA survey gave us so much hope. Since that time, the Lesotho PEPFAR program has supported innovative ways to provide HIV testing to all, index testing, and now self-testing have helped Basotho to know their status.”

LePHIA 2020 was led by the Government of Lesotho through the Ministry of Health (MOH) and the Lesotho Bureau of Statistics, with funding from the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) and technical assistance through the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The survey was implemented by ICAP at Columbia University in collaboration with public institutions, local civil society organizations, and development partners across Lesotho.

Through PEPFAR, the United States has invested nearly 7 billion Maloti over the course of its partnership with the Government of Lesotho in the fight to end the HIV/AIDS epidemic in Lesotho.

Note: To read the full remarks by Ambassador Rebecca Gonzales at this event, please click here.

For more information, please contact the Public Affairs Section at the U.S. Embassy in Maseru via email at NkhahleRA@state.gov or TsiameST@state.gov.