NPR’s ‘Weekend Edition Sunday’ Examines Impact of HIV/AIDS on Family Structures in Lesotho
HIV/AIDS in Lesotho has "stretched the extended family beyond the breaking point," where an estimated 180,000 children have lost parents to AIDS-related illnesses, NPR's "Weekend Edition Sunday" reports in the first of a series of segments on challenges in meeting the U.N. Millennium Development Goals by 2015 (Hunter-Gault, "Weekend Edition Sunday," NPR, 8/6). Lesotho, which has a population of about 1.8 million, has the world's third-highest estimated HIV prevalence, at about 30%. The country began a national antiretroviral treatment program in November 2004, and the government says 10,762 people have begun treatment since its launch (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 4/7). Lesotho as part of a $12.5 million Know Your Status campaign aims to offer an optional HIV test to every resident over age 12 by the end of 2007. The government has said it plans to hire 3,500 additional community health workers and train thousands more volunteers to help implement the program (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 5/4). Ernest Phelane, principal of Holy Trinity High School in the village of Moyeni, said that nearly half of his students are orphans and that a student's parent is buried every weekend. The school houses some of the orphans without siblings and organizes soccer games and other activities to "help ease the pain," according to NPR. Although Lesotho is credited with having "one of the most ambitious HIV/AIDS initiatives" in Africa, the number of HIV-positive people seeking care at the government hospital in Moyeni continues to increase, and HIV/AIDS has destroyed the support system usually provided by the traditional African extended family, NPR reports. Mapitso Panyane, a government official for the district encompassing Moyeni, said the government "has been doing everything in its power, but the pandemic is overtaking us." The NPR segment also includes comments from Mobashshar Hassan, a physician who came to Lesotho from Bangladesh ("Weekend Edition Sunday," NPR, 8/6).
The complete segment is available online in RealPlayer. Expanded NPR coverage is available online.