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Book to mobilise politicians to fight HIV/AIDS
Wednesday 25 May 2005
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LESOTHO: Book to mobilise politicians to fight HIV/AIDS


[This report does not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations]


JOHANNESBURG, 26 November (PLUSNEWS) - In an effort to mobilise leaders to fight HIV/AIDS, the parliament of Lesotho and the UN Children's Fund (UNICEF) this week launched a publication called "What Parliamentarians can do about HIV/AIDS Action for Children and Young People".

The publication provides parliamentarians with guidelines for responding to the challenge of protecting children and young people through laws, policies, advocacy, education and providing these vulnerable groups with tools to empower them.

"The scourge of the HIV/AIDS pandemic is so rampant that we need to pull out all stops, roll up our sleeves, mobilise every resource and put up a formidable team effort," said the Speaker, Ntlhoi Motsamai.

HIV/AIDS is increasingly attacking the young and women. According to the government, 75 percent of all new infections in Lesotho are found among girls and 51 percent of young women aged between 15 and 24 are infected, compared to 23 percent of young men and boys in the same age group. Lesotho has an HIV/AIDS prevalence rate of 29 percent, the third highest in the world.

The idea of the booklet, developed by UNICEF, UNAIDS and the Association of European Parliamentarians for Africa, evolved at the African Leadership Consultation on orphans and vulnerable children, hosted by Nelson Mandela and Graca Machel in September 2002.

At the launch this week, Letapata Makhaola, vice-president of Lesotho's Senate, remarked on the importance of leadership in addressing HIV/AIDS.

"Where leaders have shown strong political will and commitment to act; where they have broken the silence and advocated for HIV/AIDS prevention and information at any chance they had; and where they have partnered with and in defence of young people and children, they have succeeded in reducing the spread of HIV/AIDS and hampering its devastation," he said.

Lesotho's leaders were also called to stand up to the challenge posed by the pandemic by fighting back "for, with and hand in hand with their children and young people," said UNICEF country representative, Bertrand Desmoulins.

[ENDS]


 
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