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Mokete Tsehlo, "I don't take [antiretroviral] drugs because I am moving around with the sheep"

Mokete Tsehlo is a 26 year-old shepherd
(James Hall/IRIN)

Mokete Tsehlo, 26, a shepherd working in the Berea district in the tiny mountain kingdom of Lesotho, told IRIN/PlusNews how his nomadic lifestyle contributed to his HIV-positive diagnosis.

"My father let me go to a little school and I can write my name, but what I know most is sheep - how to keep them out of danger. Sheep can feed you and give you fleeces that can keep a person warm; you can sell them at the market. The more sheep you own the more prosperous a person is.

"Just because I am out here now with the sheep does not mean I am out here all the time. I have friends; we play football. But you have to keep the body out of danger, like I do the sheep. You have to avoid the wild dogs, like HIV, that kill you.

"I don't know how I got HIV. They said it was from sex ... Sometimes I go all over with the sheep. We don't just stay here; we must go where the grass is.

"I meet girls - I don't sleep with men's wives because that can get you killed - but I guess one girl I slept with slept with someone before me and I got HIV.

"I don't take [antiretroviral] drugs. I can take them but it is not easy finding a place to get them. I cannot go to the same place for drugs and get a check-up every week because I am moving around with the sheep. It was easy to get HIV, but in this country there are not that many places we know to get treatment.

"My parents know nothing about HIV, so I do not worry them about it. These are my father's sheep, and their descendants will be my sheep one day. I hope to live to have many hundreds of sheep."


This article was produced by IRIN News while it was part of the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. Please send queries on copyright or liability to the UN. For more information: https://shop.un.org/rights-permissions

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