Number of HIV Cases in Armenia Increase

YEREVAN (Noyan Tapan)–The number of reported HIV infections has risen by as much as 27 percent in the last four months.

According to the Republic’s Center for AIDS Control–Lev Zohrabyan–the number of cases rose from 26 last December to 33 by April 1.

Zohrabyan said that such an abrupt increase in the number of cases reported is attributed to the lack of financing for the Center’s programs. Zohrabyan noted that unlike other states–none of the AIDS programs in Armenia are sponsored by international organizations–and the government support and assistance is too little.

The Center does not have the elementary components and the essential tools to fulfill its direct mission–which is to control and prevent AIDS.

All of the Center’s operations and structures–including laboratories–information center–reception room–are located within 100 square meters–a four-room apartment–in a semi-destroyed building.

According to Zohrabyan–in the course of the past five years and up to last June there were only three individuals working with the AIDS Center.

Since that time–there is evidence that those coming to the Center have been recent visitors to Russia or the Ukraine–where the epidemic has reached alarming proportions. Furthermore–according to Zohrabyan–an unknown type of the HIV virus was discovered in Ukraine.

Based on data collected by the Center–"Armenia’stands to face a mass outburst of AIDS at any time."

The country is not prepared for that danger–accurate testing is almost non-existent and the necessary medicinal supplies are lacking. Because of the high cost of post-infection treatment–patients with the virus do not have any options or hopes of prolonging or eventually stabilizing their conditions.

The epidemic–according to Zohrabyan–may become out of hand in the near future–because of the specific nature of the virus as well as the small number of the native population.

Zohrabyan–in his report–stressed the urgency of establishing a preventive campaign targeting the population through various angles.

He noted that educational material must be made available to the population free of charge–the country’s blood supplies must be controlled and the usage of such supplies must be monitored more intensely.

Furthermore–he said that information about safer sexual contact must be spread–especially among the youth of the country–and the anti-drug struggle must also include education about the transmission of the AIDS virus.

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