In an effort to dramatically increase access to HIV treatment and prevention, the African country of Lesotho will launch the world's first plan to have every person in the country know his or her HIV status, according to a World Health Organization ( WHO ) press release.
Lesotho has one of the highest HIV infection rates in the world, with one in three adults being HIV-positive. This is the first time a country will offer confidential and voluntary HIV testing and door-to-door counseling; the aim is to reach all households by the end of 2007.
In addition, other African countries have stepped up in the fight against HIV and AIDS. In 2004, Botswana began offering HIV counseling and testing for all people entering health facilities. Neighboring Swaziland, with the world's highest HIV prevalence rate, now provides more than half of its citizens in need with anti-retroviral treatment. Moreover, Swaziland plans to provide an essential package of HIV/AIDS prevention, treatment and care services in 80 percent of all health facilities by the end of 2007. Those who cannot access facilities will be provided with community-based services by the end of 2008.
Dr. Jim Yong Kim, director of the WHO's HIV/AIDS Department, praised Lesotho for tackling the disease head-on. In a statement, Kim said that 'Lesotho's initiative is an excellent example of this global trend towards expanding and integrating prevention and treatment efforts.' Kim also noted that moving towards universal access to HIV/AIDS prevention, treatment and care as well as rolling back the HIV/AIDS epidemic will require innovative approaches.