HIV is not a "death sentence", says doctor

Living with HIV is no longer a death sentence if a person is tested positive with the virus.

Doctor Sarah Brown-Ah Kau of the National Health Services (N.H.S.) said this yesterday when discussing the work of the N.H.S. and the Ministry of Health in addressing HIV and AIDS over the last 28 years. 

In an interview with the Samoa Observer, she said the N.H.S. has played a key role in offering blood tests and screening blood donations for sexually transmitted infections.

“We conduct a lot of testing among key populations: people who are at a higher risk of getting HIV or STIs such as men who have sex with men, fa’afāfines and sex workers.

“We also do a lot with prevention about safe sex practices and distributing condoms,” she said.

A key component of the HIV awareness is to emphasise that HIV is treatable and treatment is free and available in Samoa, Dr. Brown said. 

“HIV is no longer a death sentence. Just because you’re infected does not mean you will have a poor quality of life. In fact it’s quite the opposite these days, it’s similar to having diabetes or high blood pressure, where you take tablets daily and you can live a normal life.”

According to Dr. Brown-Ah Kau, men or women who test positive to HIV can still live a normal life after they are put on treatment. 

“You can have children, have a family, go to work and we shouldn’t discriminate people just because of their status,” she added.

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