Nkamoheleng Mpoeea
Nkamoheleng Mpoeea , Mafeteng

"I grew up 5 minutes from this hospital. The AIDS epidemic was only just starting then. I said, 'Someday I'll wear those blue stained bars on my shoulders, like the nurses.' But I didn't know my job would be to help mothers protect their babies against HIV. A lot has changed since I started in 2006, too. Ey, I sleep better at night now, because of Test and Treat. Before, we had to wait until the mother was 7 months pregnant. Now the mothers know quite well that (claps her hands) Test and Treat. An expecting mother comes in at 8 am. By 11 am, she is taking the HIV test. If she tests positive, we start treatment with ARV's that same day. After that (claps her hands again), we initiate the child on HIV-transmission-preventing medicine. We are protecting a lot more babies from HIV these days. Mother-to-child transmission is small. We do group and then individual counseling, to address each mother's weak points. By the time the mother leaves, she understands that she has tested positive and she has to continue the treatment for life. Starting today. She also has to protect herself, the ones she loves, and her child—the one she's expecting. The mother will cry. When she is alone with me, she will say: 'I don't know how I am going to tell my husband. Or my grandmother. Or my mother. My mother doesn't like people who are living with HIV who we know. So I don't know how to address that.' We say, 'You have to tell them—the people you love—so they can support you. Have them come in with you, so we can make it easier. And maybe, through you, they will understand that there is no need to stigmatize and discriminate people who are living with HIV.'"

Molemo Pitso
Molemo Pitso , Maseru , 17

"Ey, we know that teenage girls are three times more likely to get infected with HIV, now, than anyone else. And we also know that we are Lesotho's greatest hope to end the epidemic. But they are shocked to hear how they can get infected. So easy, so fast. Like, you might see an older man go by in a beautiful car. And he will give you a gift—like a cellphone or money, something you can't get at home—in return for sex. Also, because of the judgmental and unfriendly tone of some clinics toward teenagers, a 13-, 14- or 15-year-old may go home without contraceptives. I advise them to take care of themselves. To support each other. To get tested, and to avoid risky behaviors like unprotected sex. I think people should know what they want to do with their life—like, I want to be a computer engineer. And they should hang out with people their own age. If they hang out with older people, they may be exposed to things they're not ready for. Both girls and boys say to me, 'After getting this information from a peer, it makes more sense.'

If they are scared of getting tested, I tell them that I was scared too myself. I was 16 the first time. I and the other youth ambassadors walked straight out of the training to an orange tent, to get tested. We walked arm-in-arm, I and two of my best friends. We almost turned back at the door. But then we got brave. We told the nurse, 'We are sisters,' so we could have the test and the counseling together, to support each other. Now we are closer than sisters. And the most important thing? I know my status."