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570_Peati_AIDS Commission Samoa launch 220410




Official Launching of the Pacific Aids Commission Report

22 April 2010 – RLS Museum

Your Highness, Honourable Prime Minister, Hon Deputy Prime

Minister, Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen, distinguish guests.

As you all know, my name is Peati Maiava Malaki. I have been

living with HIV for 14 years, yet I consider myself to be a

fortunate person. I count every new day as a blessing.

Each morning I thank God for being alive and relatively fit. I

thank Him for being the person I have become, and for the people

who love and care about me.

I talk to Him about people like you, and organizations such as

yours that invest concern, time, research, effort and enormous

amounts of money to challenge the disease that walks in my

shadow during the day, and blankets me at night.

I no longer feel sorry for myself. Neither am I afraid of the future.

My horizons reach well beyond those of my country, Samoa.

The world, in fact, is my home because my brothers and sisters are

all those who live with HIV or are suffering from AIDS in every

country of our planet.

With more public campaigns, workshops and awareness and

education programmes about HIV/AIDS in recent years and

months, I believe public attitude and perceptions are slowly

beginning to change.

However, despite programmes encouraging compassion towards

those affected with the disease, many living with HIV continue to

be isolated and discriminated against by their family and peers.

Many have problems finding jobs, are treated unfairly in the

workplace, and are discriminated against in many areas of life.

There is psychological damage too. These things can work against

our efforts to successfully test and treat the disease, but we must

overcome this discrimination. Stigma can make AIDS a greater

source of suffering since people are scared of social disgrace and

sometimes do not have the courage to speak out.

I wish to thank stakeholders, partnerships and overseas donors who

through your funding have enabled me to put my awareness and

capacity building programmes out to help our HIV Positive people.

Although we are getting free medical treatment, free access to

medical help, we still feel that the services provided to us HIV

Positive people at the National Hospital can still be improved.

But I, with the help of many good people in Samoa and overseas,

have managed to throw away that burden of fear and secrecy.

With their assistance; and your encouragement; I have been

empowered to assert my experience and knowledge publicly so

that others may be freed to seek treatment, support and yes, even

some comfort and happiness from those who know and care about


I want to say also that the media has a very important role to play

in providing opportunities for people living with HIV to share their

life experiences with a larger audience.

Information and understanding will help to banish fear and

loathing. It could even be the difference between life and death for

someone living with HIV.

I take this opportunity to thank from the bottom of my heart all

who have helped to change my life and make my journey possible.

I would also like to thank you the AIDS Commission for this

wonderful report which I know will be of great benefit not only to

us here in Samoa but to all our brothers and sisters around the

Pacific and in all parts of the World who are affected by HIV.

It is also a matter of great pride that your Commission has chosen

our Deputy Prime Minister the Chairman of your Commission. He

has been an AIDS champion for many years and has assisted

greatly in all efforts.


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