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Hope shines through

Hope shines through

Today Peati Maiava lives a life full of blessings.

At the end of 2006, this courageous Samoan woman can look around her and see the gifts that faith, hope and a great deal of support from family, friends and community have brought to her life.

Ten years ago Peati was grieving the loss of her youngest child and husband, Malaki Iupeli, who had both died of AIDS. She was also reeling under the shock of being diagnosed HIV positive. When she decided to go public and disclose that she was HIV positive she was discriminated against and dismissed from her job. Peati was left to single-handedly raise her son and with no income or support. It was a time of little hope and great isolation.

Now Peati's life is filled with hope. She has managed to finish building a house for her small family and it is furnished with all the things they need - even a stereo. Her brother has gifted the family with a car. And her teenaged old son finished first in his class this year and as a result received a scholarship that pays for next year's school fees.

With the help of Pacific Islands AIDS Foundation (PIAF), Samoa AIDS Foundation (SAF), and other community organizations in Samoa, Peati has become a skilled public speaker and this has enabled her to secure a stable income for at least three years. Peati will partner with PIAF, SAF and other organizations and use her personal testimonies to reach out to more people and encourage HIV awareness and prevention in Samoa.

Peati has worked as a public HIV advocate in Samoa for many years devoting her time to speaking with community groups and sharing her testimony as an HIV positive woman. Through sharing her story, Peati increases HIV awareness and also urges people to show care and support for those who have been diagnosed HIV positive.

"People living with the disease deserve to live like everyone else," said Peati at a press conference in Samoa on 29 November, 2006. "They want to live a normal life, like normal human beings."

Peati's story has been highlighted across Samoa and soon across the Pacific Islands region, as PIAF launches the documentary, Peati, part of the Positive Lives documentary series.

Her story is a sign of hope for us all.

Ends

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