The Ministry of Health has called for precautionary measures from tattooists following the recent diagnosis of a case of HIV Aids.
It occurred where a man who got an infection after his tattoo was completed, tested positive for the disease.
The Director General of Health, Leausa Dr. Take Naseri said that the Ministry is meeting tattooists today at the Millenia Hotel to assist in providing preventive measures as they practice their craft. Leausa said the case is a concern for the Ministry with many Samoans and tourists getting inked.
“We have seen the case of the man who came and got a tattoo on his leg and later had an infection,” he said.
“He went to the hospital where he was screened and found he had HIV. We are worried about the tattooists who are exposed (to blood) as well as the people getting tattooed. "
“That is why we are meeting with the tattooists to upgrade their skills and provide them with preventive measures to use before they start their work.” According to Health’s Director General, it raises concerns about people coming from around the world to get inked. Samoa is recognised worldwide for its traditional tattoo (tatau), Leausa pointed out.
“We are more traditional because we use traditional tools and therefore preventive measures should be taken.”
He said with the extensive work of the tatau, there are many people who are exposed to diseases such as HIV and hepatitis which can be transmitted through the blood.
While the number of Samoa’s HIV cases is low, the prevalence of Sexually Transmitted Infection (STIs) remains high.
In Samoa’s Global Aids Response Progress Report 2015, it highlighted the status of the epidemic (HIV) as being low with only 23 cumulative cases of HIV since 1990.
In the report that is dated December 2014, there were 12 people living with HIV (PLVWH) with 10 of them getting treated at the National Health Services with assistance from Global Fund Facility and two cases on private treatment.
“Of the 10 cases on treatment supported by the Global Fund Facility, four are adult male, two are infant male and four are adult female,” states the report.
“The two cases on private treatment are both adult male. The main mode of transmission is through sexual activities. Of the 12 PLVWH one is a returned citizen from overseas, two are cases of mother to child transmission, and the rest are through sexual intercourse.”
The report added there are no known cases of male sex with men transmission detected and other cases of transmission have been through blood transfusion.
“Although Samoa is a country with low prevalence of HIV, the increasing number of STI’s, particularly chlamidya, remains a major concern.”