World AIDS Day 2015 had a special meaning to the physicians, staff and patients of the Baylor College of Medicine-Texas Children’s Hospital-Bristol-Myers Squibb Children’s Clinical Centre of Excellence (COE) in Lesotho as they celebrate the progress, and promise on the day that marks 10 years since the clinic opened. Lesotho has the second highest prevalence of HIV in the world at 23 percent. The COE is located in the capital city of Maseru and operates satellite clinics in 5 district capitals in the country.
A part of the Baylor College of Medicine International Pediatric AIDS Initiative (BIPAI) at Texas Children’s Hospital Network, the COE has provided lifesaving care and treatment, along with education and training resources since December 1, 2005 with the help of a public-private partnership between BIPAI, Texas Children’s Hospital, Bristol-Myers Squibb Foundation and the Government of the Kingdom of Lesotho.
“Children infected with HIV who started treatment ten years ago have lived to become teenagers and young adults,” said Edith Q. Mohapi, executive director of the BIPAI Lesotho COE. “Their care is unique because of the challenges of living with HIV in addition to the usual challenges of adolescence. Many of them have lost parents to HIV, and they are also dealing with poverty. We focus more intensively on their need for psychosocial support.”
As of September, 2015, the COE has over 3,100 active patients. 92 percent of the HIV-infected children, adolescents, and adults are receiving lifesaving anti-retroviral treatment. Annually, HIV testing and counseling is provided to almost 2,000 individuals. With the opening of the COE and the team of health organizations and donors, HIV care and treatment services for children, adolescents and families have been scaled-up nationwide.
The Government of Lesotho hosted an official Word AIDS Day Celebration at the clinic. The theme of the day will be “Ending AIDS Towards Sustainable Development.”
BIPAI Lesotho was chosen as the host site as they are at the forefront of dedication to improving these efforts in the country. Dignitaries attending the event included Her Majesty, ‘M’e ‘Masenate Mohato Bereng Seeiso, Deputy Prime Minister, Honorable Mothetjoa Metsing, Minister of Health, Hon. ‘Molotsi Monyamane, Dean of the Diplomatic Corps, H.E. Hu Dingxian, Ambassador of the People’s Republic of China, Ambassador of the United States of America to Lesotho, Amb. Matthew Harrington, United Nations Resident Coordinator, MS. Karla Robin Hershey and BIPAI Chief Operating Officer/Texas Children’s Director of Global Health, Michael B. Mizwa.