Samoa on Alert as New Cases of HIV in Fiji Doubles in One Year

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Sat 22 March 2024 Apia Samoa. Samoa’s Ministry of Health has today issued a cautionary advisory, stating its concerns on the rising cases of HIV in Fiji.

“The Ministry of Health, Samoa wishes to advise the general public on the current situation in Fiji regarding the notable rise in the number of new HIV cases.,” reads the Public Notice.

“To date the Ministry of Health, Fiji has reported 415 new HIV cases for 2023.”

MOH confirms there are 404 adults and 11
children amongst the new cases of HIV positive in neighboring Fiji, compared to just 245 new cases in 2022.

Fiji currently has 1553 active cases of HIV and AIDS in the country, making it the second-highest country in the Asia Pacific region.

A person can be HIV positive and not have AIDS (Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome).

Unsafe sexual practices and the use of injectable drugs have been attributed to the rise of HIV in Fiji.

Meantime and according to the Ministry of Health, no new locally acquired HIV cases have been detected in Samoa since 2020.

MOH says there are currently 12 individuals living with HIV in Samoa.. “all of whom all are currently in monitored treatment and are in
good health.”

Sexually transmitted infections (STI’s) however continue to rise in Samoa, which have been proven to lead to outbreaks of HIV, says the

“Considering the proximity of Fiji to Samoa, the Ministry of Health, Samoa wishes to advise the general public in practicing preventative measures to minimise the possibility of HIV and STI transmission.

These preventative measures include:
 Voluntary testing for HIV and sexually transmitted diseases. Testing is available at the Communicable Disease Clinic at the Public Health Building, Moto’otua  (Ph: 66700 or 21212 ext. 700);
 Practicing safe sex by using condoms;
 Being faithful to one partner;
 Abstaining from any sexual activity if you are unsure about your partner

What is HIV?
HIV (human immunodeficiency virus) is a virus that attacks the immune system and can progress to AIDS (acquired immune deficiency syndrome) if not given proper treatment.

HIV is spread from the body fluids of an infected person, including blood, breast milk, semen and vaginal fluids.

 HIV is primarily spread through having sex (vaginal or anal) without a condom with a person who is infected with HIV and not receiving treatment to control the virus;
 HIV is also spread by sharing contaminated needles, syringes and other injecting equipment and drug solutions when injecting drugs;
 HIV is NOT spread by kisses, hugs, sharing food, coughing, or sharing household and community spaces with an infected person;

 HIV can be transmitted from a mother to her baby during pregnancy, if proper treatment is not received;

 There is no cure for HIV but ART (antiretroviral therapy) can treat patients so that they are not able to spread the virus and are able to live long healthy lives.

What is the Samoa Ministry of Health’s response?

 The Ministry of Health continues to monitor the situation in Fiji as well as monitor HIV and STI screening locally to respond to new HIV cases should they arise.

 Rapid testing services to test for syphilis and HIV are available for FREE at the Ministry of Health – Communicable Disease Clinic at Moto’otua.

 Routine screening for HIV, syphilis and Hepatitis B is conducted for all women who receive their antenatal (pregnancy) care visits.

o MOH encourages all pregnant women and their partners to attend their regular antenatal care visits to access this screening.

 Free condoms are available at all health facilities and hotels.

 Other Non-Government Organizations (NGO’s) work collaboratively with the Ministry of Health in addressing STI’s for e.g. the Samoa Family Health Association (SFHA) at Moto’otua – opposite TTM Hospital with a branch in Savaii also offers HIV & STI testing services & antenatal care services.

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Public Notice Signed by:

Dr. Atoa Glenn Fatupaito

Acting Director General of Health