Samoa joined the rest of the world to commemorate World Aids Day yesterday.
In doing so, a moment of silence was observed for people who have passed on and those who are still living survivors of the HIV/Aids virus.
The formalities kicked off with a candle light ceremony at the Black Sand Beach at Vaisigano.
Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sa’ilele Malielegaoi was among many of the leaders at the event where the Minister of Health, Tuitama Dr. Talalelei Tuitama delivered the keynote address.
Tuitama said World Aids Day was commemorated in 1990 and when it was found that HIV existed on these shores, it came as a surprise.
During that time, there was lack of resources and the treatment was not available here. There were also not enough awareness programmes about it.
Fast-forward to today; Tuitama said HIV/AIDs can be prevented if everyone works together. He said the Ministry of Health as well as the HIV Aids organization are carrying out awareness programmes to educate families, village members, churches and the community on how to prevent the disease from spreading.
So far, 24 members of the public in Samoa have been found with the HIV virus. Thirteen of them have passed away with 11 remaining.
Tuitama said as a country, we should stand together to support people living with the virus instead of pointing fingers at them. He also encouraged members of the public to get themselves tested.