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The Mophato oa Mants'ase Society
building a brighter future for our children
Out of all countries with an HIV prevalence rate greater than 1%, Lesotho has the largest percentage of children who have lost one or both parents. There are approximately 220,000 double orphans in Lesotho, 150,000 of whom have been orphaned by AIDS, and this number continues to escalate. This is happening in a country with an already small population of just over two million, and where a large majority of the population is dependent, being too old, young or sick to provide for themselves.
It has been estimated that:
• Every day more than 100 children lose one parent as a result of AIDS.
• More than 40% of Lesotho’s children have lost one or both parents.
The Government has put in place several programmes and has developed good policies to provide guidance in the areas of HIV prevention, care, support and treatment. And the donor community is collaborating with the Government in a massive effort to address the HIV epidemic. Key international stakeholders include PEPFAR, (the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief) UN agencies, Irish AID, other international donors, and dozens of non-governmental organizations.
Despite many challenges, in recent years Lesotho has dramatically increased PMTCT services (Prevention of mother-to-child transmission of HIV). Fewer children are being infected with HIV at birth and this is good and very welcome news. It is also one of the factors contributing to the explosive growth in the number of orphaned children. Born without HIV infection these children have an even better chance of living long and healthy lives but many will be orphaned before they reach the age of 17.
Access to antiretroviral treatment has continued to improve and a number of agencies estimate life expectancy in Lesotho to be between 49 and 52.
But the fact still remains that many of Lesotho’s children will face growing up without parental support, and orphans are most at risk of being exposed to abuse and exploitation. If left to survive on their own, Lesotho's orphans and other vulnerable children are forced to undertake hazardous forms of labour like herding, domestic work or commercial sex, just to survive.
While the global response to HIV and AIDS has resulted in a decrease in the overall prevalence of infection, the epidemic continues to have devastating effects on those communities affected.
According to recent estimates, the HIV/AIDS prevalence rate in Lesotho is as high as 23%, the second-highest in the world. According to the Lesotho Bureau of Statistics, in 2011 life expectancy was estimated at 39.4 for men and 45.3 for women.