In 2011-2015, 57% of the registered number of people living with HIV in Armenia have presumably been infected outside the country, particularly in Russia, and 13% of HIV-infected people are their partners. Thus, the migration factor is the main cause in 70%, specialists explain.
Currently, Shirak Region ranks first in the list of HIV/AIDS prevalence (per 100 000 population), followed by Lori and Gegharkunik (70.8) regions, said Vardan Arzakanyan, Epidemiologist at National Center for AIDS Prevention, at the Media Center discussion.
“You may wonder why the rates are high in these particular regions. The reason for it is labour migration, especially to the Russian Federation where the prevalence rates are 4-4.5 times higher,” said Vardan Arzakanyan.
Arzakanyan believes «the target group is labor migrants», and, thus, the National Center for AIDS Prevention now implements a program, HIV/AIDS Prevention in Rural Areas, which has already covered 100 communities.
Lilit Aleksanyan, social worker at Real World, Real People NGO, shared the results of public awareness campaigns their organization has conducted. Within programs Take the Test and Live and Tell Your Friend the specialists observed that people have started to more freely go to take an HIV/AIDS test though there are still obstacles to overcome.
"The common stereotypes and fears make people – even those who have had risk behaviours – aviod HIV testing. And it all contributes to HIV spread," said Lilit Aleksanyan.
In 1988-2015 there were diagnosed 165 HIV cases in Gegharkunik region (124 males).
Parandzem Avagyan, Translator/Editor