PRESS RELEASE: TAKE THE PLEDGE

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NUL students are taking a stand against stigma and discrimination towards people living with HIV

 

In order to take a stand towards Human Rights, the students of the National University of Lesotho will come together and jointly “Take the Pledge” to end stigma and discrimination towards people living with HIV on Tuesday, 19th April, 2016.

Stigmatization and discrimination are widely accepted as major obstacles in the fight against the spread of HIV and AIDS in Lesotho. Behind the adverse behavior of stigmatization and discrimination is the reluctance to engage in open dialogue about HIV and AIDS and the effect it has not only on those living with the disease but also on Youth who are not yet infected but too afraid to get tested or seek advice.

The “Take the Pledge Campaign” is an advocacy campaign intended to sensitize Basotho to end stigma and discrimination towards people living with HIV supported by UNDP, UNAIDS and Hillside Digital Trust. Basotho youth seldom have the opportunity to express their views on how this and other social ills should be tackled. Since 2014 the Take the Pledge campaign seeks to encourage all Basotho to end practices of stigma and discrimination against people living with HIV/AIDS. On social media, radio and through Integrated Voice Response youth has had the opportunity to join their voices and engage in meaningful dialogues. A short documentary has gone on a roadshow in the southern districts helping to generate discussions around stigma and discrimination and a Facebook platform has been created to engage youth in dialogues. In the documentary Rethabile, an HIV Counsellor living with HIV, is taking the audience on a short journey to the Matukeng village to show how powerful words are. “If we use words to hurt others, we destroy lives”, he says, and also “contracting HIV is not a sin and not the end of the world. If we all take the pledge against stigma and discrimination, we can beat the disease”.

NUL will be the first organization to publicly Take the Pledge and thus take a stand towards fighting stigma and discrimination. In an open event the students will engage in discussions, get an opportunity to tell their stories and jointly leave their handprints on a university wall to show their engagement in Taking the Pledge as a reminder that with over 250000 people infected in the country, it is only with ending discrimination that we can beat the disease. With the event, they want to inspire other youth in the country to take a lead in tackling social ills like stigma and discrimination. Join the students in their pledge.

You can find the online platform for discussions at: https://www.facebook.com/Youth4PeaceLesotho/

 

For more information please contact:

Ms. Ts’epang Manyeli, Chair of NUL HIV and AIDS Committee, tf.manyeli@nul.ls

Ms. Melina Sifnaiou, HIV/AIDS and Gender Officer UNDP, armelina.sifnaiou@undp.org