Is Lesotho on track to achieving an AIDS-free generation?

Candle-lit red ribbon. Photo by: Trygve Utstumo / CC BY-NC-SA

The coffin-making business in Lesotho has not been very good — but for a good reason.

In his recent trip to the African nation, journalist Nick Kristoff found coffin sales have dwindled in recent years. One coffin maker said his sales have dropped to about five or six a month, a far cry from the 20 coffins he used to sell years back.

The reason? Fewer people are dying from AIDS, thanks largely to the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief and the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria. Both initiatives have played major roles in getting free antiretrovirals to countries in need.

“Millions would not be alive without PEPFAR,” former Joint U.N. Program on HIV/AIDS executive director Peter Piot said.

Kristoff’s trip paints a clear picture not only of gains in the world’s fight against AIDS, but also of the sense that aid works.

While stories such as this aren’t likely to stop skeptics from calling for an end to foreign aid, they may inspire donors that will be attending the 2012 International AIDS Conference, which runs July 22-27, to commit more funds to move a step closer to achieving an AIDS-free generation.

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About the author

  • Jenny Lei Ravelo

    Jenny Lei Ravelo is a Devex Senior Reporter based in Manila. She covers global health, with a particular focus on the World Health Organization, and other development and humanitarian aid trends in Asia Pacific. Prior to Devex, she wrote for ABS-CBN, one of the largest broadcasting networks in the Philippines, and was a copy editor for various international scientific journals. She received her journalism degree from the University of Santo Tomas.