Migration Affects the Spread of HIV/AIDS in Armenia
Armenian experts in HIV/AIDS prevention and treatment point out a set of issues in Armenia, namely low public awareness, unavailability of medical services, discrimination towards people with HIV/AIDS.

The Media Center held a panel discussion entitled “The Impact of Labor Migration on HIV/AIDS Rate” in Martuni, Gegharkunik Region, in cooperation with the Women’s Community Council of Martuni. The panelists included: Vardan Arzakanyan, physician, infectious disease specialist at the National Center for AIDS Prevention of the RA Ministry of Health; Eduard Hovhannisyan, physician, infectious disease specialist at the National Center for AIDS Prevention of the RA Ministry of Health; Anush Poghosyan, Head of the Health Department of Gegharkunik Regional Council; Sem Tadevosyan, Co-Director at Real World, Real People NGO; and Anahit Gevorgyan, Head of the Women’s Community Council of Martuni.

Vardan Arzakanyan believes the issue serious as labor migration is increasing day by day in Armenia and, the specialist mentions, migrants comprise the risk group.

“It is notable that we have held this discussion in Martuni because labor migration from Gegharkunik Region is rather high. In 50 per cent out of all the detected cases migrants have been infected abroad, especially in Russia,” said Arzakanyan.

“What really matters is the person’s motivation,” said Eduard Hovhannisyan, “You can build a well-equipped laboratory but no one will come there. Of high importance is the attitude of the society. It is crucial not to fear medical institutions and be informed.”

Anush Poghosyan believes there are not many factors motivating people to go to medical institutions. “We now have compulsory medical examination only for pregnant women.

Anahit Gevorgyan and Sem Tadevosyan agreed that raising public awareness will eliminate discrimination towards people with HIV/AIDS and help them voice their status publicly.

“We must understand that people with HIV/AIDS do not differ from us. We now have 60 labor migrants with HIV/AIDS registered at our center. They have returned to Russia to work but we still keep in touch,” said Sem Tadevosyan.

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