World AIDS Day Marked in Armenia

YEREVAN (Armenpress)–Between 1988 and 2001–the number of people living with HIV in Armenia–a country with a total population around 3 million–reached 169 according to the official statistics. Eighty percent–are between 20-39 years of age–and the majority–130 individuals–are men–said a press release by UNDP Country Office in Armenia.

The first HIV-infected child was registered in 2001–and currently there are 3 officially registered HIV-positive children in Armenia.

The main cause of infection is intravenous drug use-IDU(46.7percent)–followed by heterosexual sexual contacts–and transmission from mother to child during pregnancy–birth or breastfeeding. The IDU transmission accounts for increasingly large share of HIV infections.

Majority of HIV/AIDS infected live in Yerevan (82 people–or 47 percent). Many of them were infected through IDU and had lived for some time in countries with alarming HIV/AIDS rates such as Russia and the Ukraine.

Twenty-nine HIV-positive people in Armenia have AIDS. Since the first registration of HIV/AIDS infection in the country 19 people died–4 of them in 2001.

The statistics indicate at the troubling tendency of growth in the number of people living with HIV/AIDS in Armenia – the number of officially registered in the last 2.5 years exceeds those from the previous 13 years.

However–these figures do not reflect the real situation of HIV/AIDS in the country. An analysis on the current situation of HIV/AIDS indicates that the prevalence of the infection exceeds the official statistics by factor of 10-15–which means that at the end 2001–Armenia is likely to have 1,500 – 2,200 people living with HIV/AIDS.

To commemorate the World AIDS Day in Armenia and to draw the attention of the mass media and decision makers to this extremely serious threat to the well-being of Armenian population and the country’s development–UN Country Team convened a Round Table on HIV/AIDS on Monday in the UN House Conference Hall.

Attending the Round Table are UN Resident Coordinator and UNDP Resident Representative Joel Boutroue–the Director of the National AIDS Centre Samvel Grigoryan–the Chairperson of the UN Theme Group on HIV/AIDS Nune Mangasaryan. The discussion issues include Armenia’s participation in UNGASS on HIV/AIDS–national legislation on HIV/AIDS–the current situation and trends of HIV/AIDS epidemic in the country–and civil society initiatives.

United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) has been working for HIV/AIDS prevention in Armenia’since 1997. The support provided to date resulted–among other things–in the preparation and implementation of a National Strategic Plan for Response to HIV/AIDS.

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