National Survey Shows Lesotho’s Remarkable Progress toward HIV Epidemic Control

LePHIA Staff at work during the survey

On Thursday, September 21, the Right Honorable Prime Minister Dr. Motsoahae Thomas Thabane will announce the results of the Lesotho Population-based HIV Impact Assessment (LePHIA) survey at the 72nd session of the UN General Assembly in New York.  LePHIA was conducted 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 was conducted nationally in 10,000 households and with 15,000 participants. The initial results from the LePHIA survey reveal significant progress in controlling the HIV epidemic.

Below are the key findings from the LePHIA survey among adults ages 15 to 59 in Lesotho:

  • Annual HIV incidence: 1.47 percent (1.74 percent among females and 1.22 percent among males)
  • HIV prevalence: 25.6 percent (30.4 percent among females and 20.8 percent among males, corresponding to approximately 306,000 people living with HIV [PLHIV])
  • Viral load suppression among all HIV-positive adults: 67.6 percent (70.6 percent among females and 63.4 percent among males)

In his speech the RT. Honorable the Deputy Prime Minister Monyane Moleleki confirmed the Lesotho government’s commitment to build on the achievements made and to keep combatting the possible gaps that this important survey might show.

The survey also reveals that Lesotho is making remarkable progress towards achieving the UNAIDS 90-90-90 targets among adults 15-59.

  • Among adults who tested HIV positive in LePHIA, 77.2 percent report already knowing their HIV status (81.5 percent of HIV-positive females and 71.0 percent of HIV-positive males)
  • Among PLHIV who know their HIV status, 90.2 percent self-report current use of ART (90.6 percent of HIV-positive females and 89.4 percent of HIV-positive males)
  • Among PLHIV who self-report current use of ART, 88.3 percent are virally suppressed (88.3 percent of HIV-positive females and 88.4percent of HIV-positive males).

The government of Lesotho’s decisive move to launch the test and treat policy in 2016 can be expected to promote further progress in controlling the epidemic by increasing the number of PLHIV who are on antiretroviral treatment.

U.S. Ambassador Matthew Harrington commented that the LePHIA results to should be used to inform the work ahead. Ambassador Harrington noted, “LePHIA has shown us that Lesotho is making remarkable progress towards achieving the UNAIDS 90-90-90 targets. Now that we have this information and along with other available data the next step is to keep the momentum going and maximize available resources to achieve an AIDS-free generation in Lesotho.”

LePHIA was led by the Government of Lesotho through the Ministry of Health (MOH), conducted 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 local partners, including the Lesotho Bureau of Statistics (BOS) and the National University of Lesotho (NUL).