In a ceremony held at the Mafeteng Government Hospital, U.S. Ambassador Matthew Harrington and Minister of Health Dr. Molotsi Monyamane launched the new Molecular Diagnostic Laboratory that will provide viral load monitoring of people on antiretroviral treatment and early diagnosis of HIV exposed infants. The newly-established laboratory will support the three southern districts of Mafeteng, Mohale’s Hoek and Quthing increasing national capacity to test for viral load in Lesotho. This will contribute to the Ministry of Health’s newly launched “Test and Treat” policy under which anyone infected with HIV should begin treatment as soon after diagnosis as possible.
The U.S. Government’s President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) has invested more than $100,000 (M1.4 million) in renovating and providing diagnostic equipment for the Molecular Diagnostic Laboratory in Mafeteng district. This laboratory will reduce the burden of HIV on patients, and enable clinicians to provide better management of the disease by monitoring the viral load of people living with HIV who are on antiretroviral therapy. When a patient has an undetectable viral load, it shows that their treatment is successfully suppressing the virus and the risk of their transmitting HIV is very low. The laboratory will also support early infant diagnosis of HIV to support immediate enrollment of children on the life-saving treatment they require.
Ambassador Harrington said at the event, “This year not only marks 50 years of independence for Lesotho but also 50 years of partnership and diplomatic cooperation between the United States and the Kingdom of Lesotho. PEPFAR is an important part of that partnership and we will continue to work hand-in-hand with government, other external partners, and civil society to help Lesotho achieve an AIDS-free generation.”
The establishment of the Molecular Diagnostic Laboratory was made possible through the collaboration of multiple local and international entities: the Directorate of Services of the Ministry of Health, the United States Government through the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the University Research Council, and the Elizabeth Glaser AIDS Foundation.
With the generous support of the American people, the U.S. government, through PEPFAR, has committed more than $300 million (M4.2 billion) since 2007 to the fight against the epidemic in Lesotho.
For further information, please contact the Public Affairs Section of the U.S. Embassy at 2231-2666 or email NkhahleRA@state.gov.