“50 Shades of Red Fashion Review a success”

Organisers of the “50 Shades of Red Fashion Review” say it was a success, as it was effective in raising awareness on sexually transmitted infections.

The event — which was held recently at the Edge Marina View in Apia — also compelled guests to capitalise on the availability of STI testing kits and undergo testing, according to the event’s organiser, Mathew Siliga Amituanai.

Mathew organised the event in partnership with Samoa Family Health Association, Samoa Aids Foundation, Taumeasina Island Resort, and Netvo.

“First of all with a testing rate of 6 per cent (in Samoa), of course there is a high probability that there would be some positive cases out there in 94 per cent of untested cases. 

“In my experience, providing sexual health services to marginalised groups and key populations, I found that many of our people are afraid to get tested for fear of being positive of something.

“When that article published by Samoa Observer of two HIV positive cases came out, there was a ripple of fear in many groups of people,” he said in an interview with Samoa Observer.

Mathew said some people feared a breach of confidentiality, fear of death or of being discriminated against and being stigmatised.

“I decided on this event as a way to give back to the community, and raise awareness that yes, although HIV is a serious disease that if left untreated — could be potentially life threatening.

“The reality is in this day and age, if you are diagnosed early and put on antiretroviral (ART) medication, you can and will live a normal life. 

“At present it’s a pill a day to keep the viral load (amount of HIV in your system) suppressed. But there are currently studies all over the world (Australia, United States and Thailand) that are looking at a single dose injection that you can get three to six months with very promising results,” he added.

With all the doom and gloom in Samoa surrounding the issue of HIV, Mathew said he wanted an event that celebrated the achievements of humanity thus far in the fight against the virus, and “50 Shades of Red Fashion Review” was both an awareness campaign and a fun night.

“I was able to concurrently provide HIV testing via an amazing kit that is funded by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Global fund, which you can test for HIV and Syphilis and get your results in literally 20 minutes. 

“The success of the night in my opinion was measured by how I had run out of HIV/Syphilis SD Duo Kits. 

“And also the fun people were having, and I was very happy everyone had fun and also took something away from the night. 

“This event was done for the community and so we did not ask for anything from the community but attendance,” he said. 

Mathew said he was grateful for the organisations and businesses that supported the event without wanting anything in return.  

“Samoa Family Health Association, Samoa Aids Foundation, National Human Rights Institution were the major sponsors from the non-government organisation’s side.

“Taumeasina Island Resort and Taumeasina Car Rental were our major prize sponsors from the business community and we also acknowledge NetVo, EnT’s Café and Restaurant, Tahiano, Club X of Samoa, Cornwall Café, JPs Gym, and Whitelight Photography.

“The hard working group: Caroline Bell, Belle Gabriel, Robert Tautua, Orlando Vui, and Jeremiah Iliafi,” he added.

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