Samoa marks World AIDS Day
The Government yesterday marked World AIDS Day in Apia with speeches by leaders revolving around the theme “know your status”.
The event kicked off with a parade and float by the National Health Services (NHS), various fa’afafine clubs and NGOs and started from the Central Police Station to Malaefatu.
Guest speakers including the Ministry of Health CEO Leausa Toleafoa Dr.Take Naseri to open the formalities before Prime Minister Dr. Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi gave the keynote address.
The Prime Minister appealed to the public to stand up in solidarity against stigma and discrimination surrounding the topics of HIV/AIDS and gender-based violence.
The commitment and contributions of the fa’afafine community to mark the day was also acknowledged by Tuilaepa.
“It’s been five years since the Samoa Fa'afafine Association (SFA) spearheaded the celebration of World AIDS day in Samoa, as one of their contributions to communities, through many events held throughout fa’afafine week,” he added.
Touching on HIV statistics of Samoa, the Prime Minister made reference to the discovery of the first HIV case in Samoa in 1990 and used the opportunity to point out that no fa’afafine has tested positive for HIV.
SFA president, Alex Su’a, said the program is a reminder to everyone of Samoa’s status in terms of HIV and AIDS.
“Samoa is a very small country and to have a number of 26 HIV victim with 13 who have passed on and 13 still surviving, that’s a big number and people tend to forget how serious this is.
“This is how we do it—we celebrate in such a way [so] people start talking about it—it’s an innovative way to make people aware and continue to be reminded of what HIV and AIDS is,” Ms. Su’a said.
A number of multi-sectoral activities took place with health booths running HIV testing, distributing health information, inspirational speakers, and trivia sessions with giveaway prizes, massage booths, food stalls, and jumping castles for children.
Yesterday’s event is the inaugural event of the multi sectoral program that was instigated and coordinated by SFA in collaboration with Ministry of Health, Samoa AIDS foundation, Samoa Family Health Association and Samoa Red Cross Society.
The program is supported by United Nations Population Funds (UNPF), United Nations Development Program Global Fund (UNDP GF) and World Health Organization (WHO).