At the discussion on “HIV-positive women and discrimination in Armenia” hosted by the Media Center on February 21, Zhenya Mayilyan, Founder and Chairperson of the Women's Empowerment Center NGO, said that many people in the regions (marzes) had no idea where they could undergo medical tests and people in communities feared HIV tests as they were afraid of learning about their HIV status.
"We held trainings in the regions and informed the people there about HIV/AIDS. Once informed, many of them changed their attitude and realized that, for instance, one can marry an HIV-positive person. Women in the regions are vulnerable. We talked to girls urging them to get HIV tests before marriage and make their future husbands do so as well," Mayilyan said.
Another press conference speaker, Anna Abgaryan, NGO Founder and Project Coordinator, said that the HIV-positive women targeted by the Center had changes in their lives.
"These women stigmatize themselves; they bear stigma. As a result of our work, they get rid of these complexes, their self-esteem raises and they note that the people around them also treat them with respect and they enjoy a personal growth".
Abgaryan added that as a result of their trainings, women and girls in communities realized that HIV-positive persons may work in the food sector.
"We asked them a question: if your family member contracts HIV, will you care for them? Before the training, they answered no and after the training – yes,” Abgaryan said.
The speakers said that HIV-positive women were very vulnerable and the stories of the beneficiaries reflected many issues in various sectors.
"For instance, there are shortcomings in health sector, violations of professional ethics and confidentiality, e.g. doctors tell a person’s HIV-status in the presence of their family member or relative or about spouse’s HIV status in the presence of other people, etc.," Abgaryan added.
Lilit Arakelyan, Media Center Project Editor/Coordinator
To contact the author, please emailher: Lilitarakelyan@pjc.am