Armenian National Center for AIDS prevention reports growing statistics of HIV infections in the country.
This year, more than 222 cases of HIV infection have been registered, which is the highest index as compared to the previous years. Since 1988, the total of 1,541 AIDS/HIV cases have been registered in Armenia, while experts claim there are around as many undisclosed cases. Seventy percent of the infected are men, 30 percent are women.
Projects Director of the International HIV/AIDS Alliance in Ukraine Lesya Khmel told the press on Thursday that the situation with HIV/AIDS in the post-soviet territory is rather troubling, with demonstrated increase of cases. In particular, Khmel says, the growth of patients with HIV infection has been noticeable over the past few years among labor migrants and prostitutes.
“In Armenia the most troubling fact is the growing number of cases among women of reproductive age. As for labor migrants, the spread of epidemics is conditioned by the fact that in Russia (where the overwhelming majority of Armenian migrants go) HIV prevention state programs are ineffective, and besides, there is no cooperation with the other countries in the region,” said Khmel, adding that the number of HIV/AIDS patients dropped by two percent in the Ukraine in 2012, in particular the cases of virus transmission through infected syringe among drug addicts have been reduced.
Ashot Gevorgyan, national program officer of the HIV/AIDS international alliance in Armenia, says in the country in 58 percent of cases HIV is transmitted through heterosexual intercourse; 32 percent is among drug users; and 2.1 percent is among homosexuals.
Gevorgyan reports that Armenia has joined the European week of struggle against HIV/AIDS to launch on November 22, during which events will be held aimed at raising public awareness on the issue. Gevorgyan especially stressed the importance of free rapid HIV tests in Yerevan and the provinces (offering 99 percent accuracy in minutes’ time).
Gevorgyan believes poor availability of home-use rapid HIV test kits in Armenia is a serious hindrance to timely diagnosis. He says everywhere else in the region they are using the rapid tests, while in Armenia, with the exception of very urgent cases when the test is required before blood-transfusion, one has to go to a clinic or a lab to take a blood test and wait for a week before learning the result.
Khmel has concerns that a few years later things will get worse in terms of HIV/AIDS in the region, including Russia, Armenia, the Ukraine, as major international donors are cutting their financial aid and shifting towards African countries in most of the cases. She believes that the listed countries are unable to allot sufficient funds to implement successful projects to fight HIV/AIDS.