Today is last day for free HIV/AIDS testing
National HIV/AIDS testing week concludes today. This means today is the last day for local residents to receive free HIV/AIDS testing at the Department of Health compound in Fagaalu.
Co-chair of the local HIV/AIDS and Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STD) Prevention Core Group Rev. Father Kelemete Pua’auli told Samoa News Wednesday evening that local residents need to take advantage of the free testing clinics “in order to protect themselves and everyone else from this deadly disease.”
He said people shouldn’t let their guard down just because there has been a very low recorded count of AIDS cases in the territory.
HIV is the Human Immunodeficiency Virus that causes AIDS, which is Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome, a disease of the human immune system that is transmitted primarily through unprotected sexual intercourse, contaminated blood transfusions, hypodermic needles, and from mother to child during pregnancy, delivery or breastfeeding.
There is no cure or vaccine for AIDS, considered a pandemic, that has caused nearly 30 million deaths worldwide as of 2009 and infected 34 million people globally as of 2010.
Samoa News understands that there has only been one local recorded death from AIDS. Furthermore, the lone case involving an infected individual discovered locally happened to be someone from another country.
Fr. Kelemete urges everyone in the community to get tested. “Everyone needs to take that step and get tested.” As for those who are hesitant to get tested because of fear that the results may be exposed publicly, Fr. Kelemete said confidentiality is very serious to them and they take every measure to ensure that individuals are protected and test results are kept in strictest confidence.
Two years ago in 2011, a reported 1,100 people took advantage of the HIV/AIDS testing clinics.
Fr. Kelemete says individuals should take responsibility for their own health. “This not only applies to married people but also our teenagers. Times have changed and those who are sexually active or are planning to become sexually active need to get tested. This is means married people who are sexually involved with more than one partner and those who have multiple sex partners need to take care of themselves and one way to do that is to know whether or not they are infected with the AIDS virus.”